Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), Spain, have devised a new surface treatment which, when applied to biomaterials, will reduce the rejection that the human body naturally generates towards implants.
In a new study, researchers at the Centre for Biomedical Technology of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (CTB-UPM) have developed a new technology that allows altering the surface of metal biomaterials to improve their interaction with the biological environment.
The procedure consists of coating the surface of the material with a layer of less than a thousandth of a millimetre to which it is possible to join molecules.
This will reduce the possibility of rejection and thereby increase the life of the prothesis and improve the quality of life for patients.
Reacting to protheses
Since the human body has adapted to external environments, exposure to any substance that is not essential for our survival is considered a threat and induces and aggressive response from the body. The mechanism that is vital for our survival, then, becomes a barrier which must be overcome specifically for any treatments involving contact of a material with any organ or tissue.
Metallic biomaterials are essential in prostheses that are subjected to high stresses, such as hip and knee prostheses. However, even metals used in medicine do not generate an optimal reaction in the body.
The body’s natural response to metal biomaterials is typically to coat them with a kind of scar, which isolates the material from the surrounding functional tissues. Such a scar can be a short-term problem in favouring the possibility of an infection appearing in the environment of the prosthesis and, in the long term, it can induce the loosening of the implant.
Considering all of this, the convenience of establishing an intimate and reliable contact between the material and the surrounding functional tissue seems clear as this will reduce the possibility of rejection.
The researchers have particularly observed that by immobilising collagen molecules on a titanium alloy surface they not only increase the number of cells growing on the material, but that the cells have a significantly larger size.