Posted on Jun 22, 2009, 1 p.m.
By gary clark
Researchers are working on the development of more natural bone materials to be used to treat bone damage and deterioration, including the development of a bio-active glass replacement material that combines glass with organic materials.
Dr. Mohamed Rahaman, director of the Center for Bone and Tissue Repair and Regeneration at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and his colleagues are making progress on the development of more natural bone replacement materials. Specifically, the researchers are working on a "bio-active glass" for the repair of hard and soft tissues. Like its name implies, bio-active glass combines glass with organic materials to create a replacement that can eventually become part of the bone.
Dr. Roger Brown, a professor of biological science and associate of Dr. Rahaman, describes it much like work that is done to repair a building's foundation. "To make sure the building doesn't collapse while work is being done, scaffolding is used. When the work is completed, the scaffolding that was holding the building up is taken down," he explains, saying that this is how, in essense, bone replacement should work, except that "the implant grows into natural bone material with such things as blood vessels and cells developing in the implant naturally."
Four bioactive glasses are currently being evaluated in Kansas City. Once the best glasses are identified, Dr. Rahaman will lead the effort to build prototypes, which will be first placed in animals. If everything goes according to plan, the method will ultimately be tested in humans. And in fact, if the material works like they think it will, the Missouri S&T team will have played a big role in changing the way medical professionals treat bone trauma.
At this time, however, the technology cannot be utilized inside a person's body for one simple reason: bodies are supposed to fight against foreign objects. One of the team members, Dr. Chang-Soo Kim, a professor in the electrical and computer engineering department, has been charged with overcoming this obstacle. Toward this end, Dr. Kim is developing a bio-sensor that will keep track of such biological factors as the pH level or oxygen levels as it measures the body's reaction to a bone replacement.
Why is the development of new bone replacement materials so critical? The American population is aging. Currently, there are 35.9 million people over the age of 65. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, that number is expected to more than double to about 88.5 million people by 2050. In addition, life expectancy is increasing, which, says Dr. Rahaman, dictates the need for longer lasting bone replacements. For example, he notes that metal hip socket replacements have a shelf-life of 15 years, which could mean that a patient might need a second replacement, depending upon the ageat which he or she first undergoes surgery. Dr. Rahaman points out that the organic bone replacements are meant to last several decades, eliminating the need for a second surgery in most cases.
Founded in January 2008, the Center for Bone and Tissue Repair and Regeneration is a multidisciplinary research center. Its mission is to research and develop advanced biomaterials and biosensors for the repair and regeneration of traumatized bone and tissues.
News Release: Program makes strides in tissue www.therolladailynews.com June 16, 2009