Research into spare parts for humans
One of the fields of research at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, is biomaterials. The academy is a world-leader in this field. The research is carried out in close collaboration with the health and medical care system, the dental health system and business interests. One example is the successful Biomatcell project, which is developing new materials to be used in the implants and prostheses of the future.
Millions of people receive implants and prostheses every year. These products must be able to remain in continuous contact with tissue and body fluids without provoking an immune response or inflammation. Examples of the application of implants and prostheses include the replacement of a worn hip joint and the replacement of a lost tooth. Pacemakers are another common implant.
"We have a long tradition of research into biomaterials at the University of Gothenburg. It was here that Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark discovered what he called "osseointegration", which is the ability of bone to fuse with titanium. This discovery lead eventually to titanium implants and the industrial concern Nobel Biocare," relates Olle Larkö, dean of the Sahlgrenska Academy.
He describes the current Biomatcell project as a descendent of the research tradition in biomaterials. Biomatcell is an abbreviation of Biomaterials Structure Dynamics and Properties, and the research carried out in the project is targeted towards developing new intelligent materials with biological components, in which the body's own ability to regenerate tissue is stimulated. These new materials can be tailored for an individual patient and promote healing, using, among other technologies, nanotechnology and stem cell technology.
Biomatcell achieved the status of VINN Excellence Center at the Sahlgrenska Academy some years ago. The Excellence Centre unites all research and development within biomaterials and cell-based therapy. The VINN Excellence Center is funded by the government agency Vinnova, which a few years ago decided to award Biomatcell SEK 70 million for 10 years, while the university, business interests and the health and medical care system contributed a further SEK 140 for the same period.
"We have a unique environment at the VINN Excellence Center in Gothenburg, in which the academic sphere, business interests, hospitals and dental care work together within a restricted geographical area, with all that this means in terms of the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and creativity", says dean Olle Larkö, who believes also that this provides a good breeding ground in which small and large companies can develop.
But even before the VINN Excellence Center was here, there was an established collaboration between the university, the health and medical care system, dental care and business interests, which together drove developments within biomaterials forwards. The major investment from both governmental and private bodies enables Gothenburg to retain its position as world-leader in research into biomaterials.