Gel coating for implants promotes bone growth

4 April 2014

A new gel coating for titanium implants developed at Uppsala University, Sweden improves their integration into bone and prevents rejection.

The success of orthopaedic and dental implants depends on integration into adjacent bone tissue. Gels made by modifying hyaluronan, a large biological molecule, can bind protein molecules that promote bone formation. When coated on titanium surfaces the protein molecules can be released slowly once the surface comes in contact with a solution of calcium ions. This process would stimulate the growth of bone on the implant.

Bone promoting gel
Gel coated titanium surface binds proteins which promote
 bone formation. Photo credit: Ida Berts

The research group has now launched trials of similar materials for metal implants in rabbits. These ongoing studies are made in collaboration with the Swedish Agricultural University in Uppsala and they provide a step towards transfer of the results to clinical applications.

"We envisage that the materials will be used in medicine to modulate the healing process in bone," says Associate Professor Dmitri Ossipov. "Neutrons are an ideal tool to understand the interactions of metal surfaces, polysaccharide biopolymers, and proteins thanks to a contrast matching technique that highlights only the protein components at the interface.’"


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