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Biodegradable Metallic Implants

Bio-functional coating for biodegradable metallic implants inhibits corrosion and prevents inflammation and infection.

Biodegradable Metallic Implants
Commonly used metallic implants include stainless steels, titanium, and cobalt-chromium-based alloys. These biomaterials are somewhat limited and can cause negative affects on the body, such as the release of toxic metallic ions and/or particles through corrosion or wear processes. These toxins can lead to inflammatory issues in patients. Permanent metallic fixtures can trigger infections, increasing the liklihood of repeat surgeries and an increase in healthcare cost. Current metallic biomaterials have vastly different propeties than natural bone tissue, resulting in stress shielding effects that can lead to reduced stimulation of new bone growth and decreased implant stability.

Several challenges exist for the long term presence of metallic implants, especially in applications that require only short-term support for healing. Although metals present these concerns, they are much more dependable than polymers and ceramics. This leads to the development and research of biodegradable metals. This is a new concept within medicine that presents solutions to the problems that are raised with the use of traditional metals.

Magnesium (Mg) and its alloys are being explored as a potential biodegradable metallic implants by researchers at Wichita State University. This substance can provide both better physiological repair, as well as superior reconstruction of vascular tissues with minimum inflammatory response. The body’s fourth most plentiful metal is magnesium, and some studies have shown that its ions are able to inhibit platelet activation. The corrosion of magnesium-based implant involves the formation of a non-toxic by-product that is harm to the body.

Wichita State researchers have developed coating on magnesium to control its biodegradation, surface modification for localized therapeutic delivery, development of in-vitro biodegradation test methods and modeling to predict biodegradation behavior. Their focus on this is to eliminate the concerns of metallic implants by coating each implant in a harmless, biodegradable substance.

The global orthopedic trauma ĕxation devices market is expected to grow from $5.5 billion in 2012 to $9.3 billion by 2020. Currently, stainless steel, cobalt, and titanium are the most common metals used for implants. Mismatch in bone and metal properties leads to many complications and repeat surgeries. The use of biodegradable metals is the natural next step in improving metallic implants.

Magnesium based materials and its alloys are one of the materials under investigation for its potential applicability as a metallic biodegradable implant. With a density of 1.74 grams per cubic centimenter, it is considered a lightweight material. It is 1.6 times less dense than aluminum and 4.5 times less dense than steel. The potential is there for it to serve as a lightweight, biodegradable implant material that would remain present in the body and maintain its mechanical integrity over a predetermined time scale while the tissue heals.

Dr. Mahapatro and his team’s invention demonstrates a hybrid coating strategy that provides a corrosion-inhibiting, bio-functional coating for magnesium based materials for development of biodegradable metallic implants. This coating consists of two layers. The first is a base coating that provides long term corrosion resistance. The top layer is a functional coating that caters to bio-functionality requirements including: drug delivery for prevention of stent restenosis, tissue integration, and antibacterial properties for orthopedic fracture management devices.

A magnesium based implant has the capability to be installed similarly to metallic implants through a surgical process; however, the biodegradation of Dr. Mahapatro’s invention is much better for the body. There are adhesive elements to the implant that connect the biodegradable device to the at-risk area. The device is resistant to biocorrosion, and at the same time, it will eventually be biodegraded as the tissue it was replacing heals and redevelops. There is little toxicity involved in this process, which makes it a much more suitable and desirable piece of equipment. Eventually, the implant will be non-existent, and the patient will have a healed body part.

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Wichita State University

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Pending Patent

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