"The aim of the proposed project is to produce a new generation of hybrid materials that heal bone defects, reduce the need for transplants, improving quality of life for trauma and cancer patients and the elderly. The new materials will share load with bone, stimulate bone growth and dissolve after the bone is repaired. They will also be able to be cut to shape by a surgeon in theatre. Current bionert implants have a limited lifespan, which is a major problem for traditional materials as human life expectancy continues to increase. Therefore, this project aims to shift emphasis from replacement of tissues to regeneration of tissues to their original state and function.
In this proposal new bioactive organic-inorganic hybrids will be created that could, for the first time, fulfil all the criteria for an ideal scaffold. Hybrids are a new way to obtain synergy from materials, where the organic is introduced while the inorganic network is being assembled so that the components interact at the molecular level. The key to success is using polymers that have not yet been exploited for construction of bone scaffolding materials. This is because the degradable polymers that are currently approved for biomedical applications (e.g. polyesters) degrade and lose their mechanical properties too rapidly once degradation begins. Alternatives are naturally occurring polymers that are enzyme degradable and can therefore degrade by natural remodeling mechanisms after implantation. Also key is obtaining controlled covalent bonding between the organic and inorganic components. In addition nanoscale texture will be introduced on the scaffolds surface by the incorporation of polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxanes nanostructures, which are non toxic, biocompatable can promote faster osseointegration and provide in situ mechanical stability to the scaffold. In this way the proposed hybrid scaffolds will be optimized from the surface topology to the nano and macro scale."
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