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Gothenburg’s medtech strength results in new bendy biocompatible material

Scientists in Gothenburg have created a new, non-toxic, rubbery material that could be used to replace human tissue.

The development by the team at Chalmers University of Technology is the latest in the Swedish city’s advances in materials beneficial for people’s health. The Department of Biomaterials at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers are world-leading in advanced medical materials in several areas thanks to a multidisciplinary approach.

Gothenburg is home to two VINN Excellence centres in the field, BIOMATCELL and SuMo, with additional research at the Wallenberg Wood Science Center, and the Centre for Additive Manufacture – Metal (CAM2), plus national and international industrial partners.

Active fields include tissue and cell engineering, especially materials for osseointegration, materials for pharmaceuticals and personal care, materials for biosensing, and food technologies.

Gothenburg is considered to be the birthplace of osseointegration (bone integration), largely due to pioneering work on the unique properties of titanium and its ability to attach directly to bone tissue, which has resulted in millions of implant treatments.

The Chalmers team had aimed to produce a hard bone-like material, but instead the research resulted in a biocompatible material similar in composition to plexiglass – already used in various medical applications – but very soft, flexible and elastic.

Its proposed first use is in infection-resistant urinary catheters. The surface of the new nano-rubber material can be treated so that it becomes antibacterial, in a natural, non-toxic way. This is achieved by sticking antimicrobial peptides – small proteins which are part of our innate immune system – onto its surface, reducing the need for antibiotics.

The material is also filled with a three-dimensional network of nanoscale pores which could be loaded with medication which gradually dissipates out of the material, delivering medication where it’s needed.

Because the material starts out as a viscous fluid it could also be injected into the target site through keyhole surgery, reducing the need for drastic surgery, before subsequently taking on its rubbery form once inside the body.

The material could additionally be used to replace cartilage or other soft tissue within the body, or in 3D printing replacement parts (such as spinal discs), or as a non-toxic filler in plastic surgery.

The technology is being commercialised by med-tech spinoff company Amferia, which specialises in innovative materials for healthcare. It is also working on commercialising an antibacterial wound patch developed by the same team. 

 

(Via: Chalmers University of Technology, New Atlas)