Securing Medical Progress
Artificial hips, knee joint replacements, screws for fixing fractures – the demand for implants is high. Scientists in two areas are developing new materials for implants: the Institute of Biomaterial Science works with materials based on polymers and the Institute of Materials Research studies those based on magnesium alloys.
The focus of research at our Teltow branch is the development of innovative polymer-based biomaterials for medical application.
Institute of Biomaterial Science
Study ranges from cell and tissue-specific plastics for use in regenerative medicine to active implants, adsorbent materials for filter systems and to intelligent drug delivery systems. The innovations are then transferred to clinical practice. Close contact therefore exists with hospitals – in particular the Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin – and with the industry to expedite the introduction of medical products.
Biomaterials for Regenerative Medicine
When a nail or plate is required for fixing a bone fracture, such materials are currently made of titanium or stainless steel. The foreign material, however, must be removed after the bone has healed, otherwise a risk of inflammation exists. The objective in modern implant research is then to develop a material that can be substituted into the body as if it belonged to the organism itself.
The desire is for a biological material that initially supports the bone but then disappears after the body has healed. Magnesium is very well suited for this purpose: this element occurs naturally within the body and possess the advantage that it can selectively dissolve. It is also light, strong and well tolerated by the organism. Magnesium alloys possess physical properties more similar to bones than do other metals.
Material researchers in the Magnesium Innovation Centre, MagIC, examine implant materials made of magnesium that can be used as bone replacements in medicine: for example, new magnesium-calcium alloys. These alloys are both stable and elastic, resembling the characteristics of bone.
The alloys are designed in such a way that magnesium serves as a base to which additional alloy elements are added. These additional elements are selected so that nothing negatively influences the organism.
The production process is still a cause of considerable concern for the researchers: apart from the alloy composition, the production of the material also exerts crucial influence on its degradation behaviour. Magnesium-calcium bone screws have already been manufactured by means of metal injection moulding (MIM). The challenge with magnesium lies in its high affinity for oxygen. In this case, even small oxygen quantities lead to dramatic changes in mechanical properties.
|Institut||Institute of Materials Research|
Biological Characterization: The “Biological Characterization” department examines how cells react to new implant materials. |
Materials Design and Characterization: The department "Materials Design and Characterization" is working on application and development of the Metal Injection Moulding technology. Focus is laid on special techniques for processing of titanium based materials