Transformational Research in Metallic Biomaterials
Through the intertwining of carefully-planned, cutting edge research on a global level among partner institutions the ERC-RMB will create engineered systems (ESs) related to:
- ES1-Craniofacial and Orthopedic Applications
- ES2- Cardiovascular and Thoracic Devices and
- ES3- Responsive Biosensors and Neural Applications.
The three (3) ESs (ES1, ES2, ES3) -are driven by three (3) overarching research thrust areas (color coded in our strategic chart as listed below) comprised of enabling technologies and fundamental knowledge:
- Thrust #1: New materials development (Red Team)
- Thrust #2: Materials processing/characterization and modeling (chemical, physical, mechanical, modeling) (Blue Team)
- Thrust #3: Biocompatibility testing (Green Team)
The ERC will develop and investigate biodegradable systems that combine novel bioengineered materials based on magnesium with miniature sensor devices that can control the integrity of implants as well as facilitating the release of biological factors and drugs to promote healing.
Biodegradable metallic systems offer significant therapeutic advantages over implants used today. The mission for the ERC is to deliver on the potential of bioengineering and nanotechnology to dramatically improve treatments for orthopedic, craniofacial, cardiovascular and thoracic ailments and to develop neural interventions. The promise is that new kinds of implants and biodegradable metals may be used that can optimally facilitate the neural healing process and eventually dissolve when no longer needed. These innovations would particularly benefit pediatric patients suffering from cleft palate, angular deformities of long bones, limb length discrepancies, or trauma including fractures that require pins and screws for repair. Large markets are also available for applications such as osteoporotic fragility fractures in aging baby boomers (wrist, hip and spine); and, additionally, opportunities exist for reconstruction of multiple rib fractures (trauma) and for staples for closure of the abdominal wall.
Biodegradable metal implants hold the promise of reducing the expense and spare children the pain of multiple procedures used to implant, then later remove, refit and re-implant the current generation of devices.
Another important application is to improve metallic stents that are currently used to treat blockages in blood vessels, airways, sinus, and other ducts. Stents can elicit hemostatic and inflammatory responses leading to the growth of scar tissue and the formation of blood clots. If blockages form, these stents are difficult to remove and additional stents must be inserted. Biodegradable stents could reduce or eliminate the need for additional invasive procedures and would not serve as a constriction point in growing patients. Sensors and other neural applications developed by the ERC will provide new information on the biological response of the body to implanted devices and in the future may allow a means to control the degradation of metallic implants.
All these point towards the same mission, vision and activities of the ERC-RMB as guided by the NSF site team, CSAB, IAB and EAB of the ERC-RMB.