Advancing the Capabilities of Prosthetic Materials
Detail of the titanium surface of a surgical implant. Courtesy: The Webster Laboratory, Brown University.
The bleeding edge of advanced materials is regularly defined by technologies developed for the human body. Synthetic materials play increasingly complex roles in prosthetic applications, for example, which seek acceptance by surrounding tissues, rapid healing, and the optimization of anatomical functionality.
In a recent paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, a team from Brown University describes its development of a process to modify the surface of titanium leg implants to accelerate skin cell growth.
The two-step method involves the contouring of the nanoscale surface to mimic the surface of bone—in which hollow tubular microstructures encourage skin-cell attachment—as well as the application of skin-cell-growing proteins that hasten the healing process. The new technology can decrease the opportunities for infection while improving surgical recovery time.
“You need to close (the area) where the bacteria would enter the body, and that’s where the skin is,” says lead researcher Thomas Webster. With the application of the new technology, “you definitely have a complete layer of skin, there’s no more gap for the bacteria to go through.”