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Nanostructured Ceramic and Ceramic-Polymer Composites as Dual Functional Interface for Bioresorbable Metallic Implants

  • Ian Johnson (a1), Qiaomu Tian (a1) and Huinan Liu (a1) (a2)

Millions of medical implants and devices (e.g., screws, plates, and pins) are used each year worldwide in surgery, and traditionally the components have been limited to permanent metals (e.g., stainless steel, titanium alloys) and polyester-based absorbable polymers. Because of clinical problems associated with these traditional materials, a novel class of biodegradable metallic materials, i.e., magnesium-based alloys, attracted great attention and clinical interests. Magnesium (Mg) is particularly attractive for load-bearing orthopedic applications because it has comparable modulus and strength to cortical bone. Controlling the interface of Mg with the biological environment, however, is the key challenge that currently limits this biodegradable metal for broad applications in medical devices and implants. This paper will particularly focus on creating nanostructured interface between the biodegradable metallic implant and surrounding tissue for the dual purposes of (1) mediating the degradation of the metallic implants and (2) simultaneously enhancing bone tissue regeneration and integration. Nanophase hydroxyapatite (nHA) is an excellent candidate as a coating material due to its osteoconductivity that has been widely reported. Applying nHA coatings or nHA containing composite coatings on Mg alloys is therefore promising in serving the needed dual functions. The composite of nHA and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) as a dual functional interface provides additional benefits for medical implant applications. Specifically, the polymer phase promotes interfacial adhesion between the nHA and Mg, and the degradation products of PLGA and Mg neutralize each other. Our results indicate that nHA and nHA/PLGA coatings slow down Mg degradation rate and enhance adhesion of bone marrow stromal cells, thus promising as the next-generation multifunctional implant materials. Further optimization of the coatings and their interfacial properties are still needed to bring them into clinical applications.

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