In order to create biomaterials that are absorbed by the body, contribute to a better recovery and are low cost, a multidisciplinary group of researchers from the faculties of Chemical Engineering (FIQ), Medicine and Chemical Sciences (FCQ) of the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP) created prostheses that have the function of fully repairing fractures or imperfections of the long bones.
Marco Antonio Morales Sánchez, a researcher at the FIQ and responsible for this project, explained that generally the defects caused in the bones by accidents or diseases, such as osteoporosis or cancer, are treated with titanium prostheses. The cost of these prostheses ranges from 10,000 to 30,000 pesos (522 to 1,567 US dollars), and the cost of surgery is more than 80,000 pesos. Additionally, the body absorbs them, so the patient has to take medicine to avoid metal poisoning.
This work sought to create scaffolds recreating the shape of the bones through computer models and 3D printing them using biopolymers that can be absorbed by the human body, such as polylactic acid (PLA), used as thread for sutures in surgery. Once these scaffolds were printed, they were coated with calcium. The products were then tested in rats and subjected to an analysis within the industrial computerized tomography of the BUAP Advanced Center for Non-Destructive Analytical Tests.
“Thanks to the quantitative data and measurements that the tomography showed, we verified that the composition of the material has a great similarity to that of a real bone, we also corroborate that calcium is well attached to the biopolymer, in addition to the fact that the pore size was in a range of 400 to 600 microns, something that had not been previously explored in biological processes for bone reconstruction,” Morales Sánchez said.
In a first test, the tomography showed a notable difference between the biomaterial and the bone; however, in the second test performed 28 days later, the difference between the prosthesis and this was no longer noticed.
Jorge Cerna Cortez, director of the FCQ, said that thanks to the technology they have, it was possible to monitor the recovery of the bones of the mice, without the need to sacrifice them or to perform surgery on each test, so that the animal was introduced into the tomography to be scanned, at a low intensity of x-rays, to check the degree of regeneration.
With this project it will be possible to manufacture affordable prostheses that have the quality of becoming part of the bones, without future complications, in addition to regenerating them. The project, which won the National Engineering Prize 2017, already has a patent application record before the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property.
The first results on tests of resistance of the prostheses in a body, were reflected in an article recently published the Journal of Material Science. The researchers plan to write a second article that shows the results of the analysis obtained with the tomography, about the fusion of the prosthesis with the bone.
Marco Antonio Morales Sánchez, PhD in Applied Physics by the Faculty of Mathematical Physical Sciences of the BUAP said the next step is to create implants that can be tested in people who have suffered accidents where bones have been severely damaged, with the intention of helping them recover mobility.
Source: Ciencia MX