Extended knowledge of biomaterials applied in the development of implants for a more diverse target group
The Institute of Clinical Sciences at University of Gothenburg is characterised by a large number of research and educational areas covering 14 different orientations. All research is conducted over boundaries and can be described as multidisciplinary. Based originally on Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark’s research and groundbreaking discovery that titanium can interact with living bone, the field of biomaterialshas developed tremendously over the years. Researchers are now venturing into new areas where biomaterials are used in a broader context, making it possible to create for example prostheses for amputees and materials which carry stem cells and antibacterial properties..
At the Department of Biomaterials, Institute of Clinical Sciences, a lot of progress has been made over the past decade. The research area includes long-term studies to generate fundamental knowledge on how and especially why certain materials can interact with living bone and tissue.
Fundamental research: cellular reactions to materials
Professor Peter Thomsen, Director of BIOMATCELL VINN Excellence Center of Biomaterials and Cell Therapy,, is focusing on the development of techniques to study cellular and soft tissue reactions to various materials. Especially the early events are studied in cell cultures and in experimental model systems with tools of cell and molecular biology, combined with histology and high-resolution electron microscopy.Here he explains:
“We are particularly interested in creating an understanding of how the surface properties of certain materials interact and integrate with biological components on the cellular and molecular level. This research is vital to our overall understanding of how to create better and safer implants for broader application areas in the future. These studies are funded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), ensuring a high level of quality in the research”. The research is also part of a new Materials and Health platform together with Chalmers, funded by strategic grants from the Swedish Government.
Clinical aspect: verifying possible alternatives in orthopaedics
The biomaterials researchers are also involved in the clinical research at the department, where new materials are tested and verified as possible alternatives in orthopaedics. Researchers Björn Rydevik,Richard Brånemark are pioneering the development of new materials andprocedures for orthopaedic osseointegration (the process of materials integrating with biological environments, i.e. living bone and tissue.
“It has been clinically proven thatosseointegrated prostheses for patients with amputated limbs have a much better functionality and provide better comfort than traditional prosthetic solutions. The aim is to increase quality of life, and osseointegrated implants provide a new solution to old problems. However, as always there are new challenges associated with new technology”, Peter Thomsen continues.
”“The body may not be able to re-create the amount of bone required to anchor the implant, but we are currently looking into the possibilities of stimulating cells to create bone faster”. In a collaboration with Helena Brisby and Anders Lindahl, the combination of materials and stem cells and the possibility to create new tissues, is pursued in both fundamental and clinical studies.
It almost sounds like a solution far off into the future, but it has already become reality. It is fully possible to create implants that integrate directly with living bone. The next step is to create solutions for compromised and severely affected local sites.
“Here it can be foreseen that specific drugs and stem cells in combination with materials could be injected locally to support the regeneration of new tissue”.
Future aim: enhance quality of life for a broad target group
The environment at the Department of Biomaterials is highly international with 50 per cent of the postgraduates originating from other countries.
“We work across boundaries, both disciplinary and geographical. The success of the departmental research is also dependent on collaboration between us, other Universities and research institutes, the clinical environment and the industry” Peter Thomsen underlines.
The cooperation is distinguished through the BIOMATCELL VINN Excellence Center of Biomaterials and Cell Therapy,a 10-year research program, co-funded by VINNOVA, Region Västra Götaland, University of Gothenburg and 12 other partner organisations.
The center has already generated patented solutions and marks the start of a new era in clinical research and in particular the use of biomaterials to enhance quality of life for a broad target group.