Design and optimization of 3D scaffolds for orthopaedic devices and applications
Bone defect repair remains a clinical challenge in the 21st century, because of
the associated morbidity and the increasing incidence of traumatic injury and
arthritis. With ageing populations and prolonged life expectancy, there is
increasing demand for bone grafts and synthetic materials that can be used to
replace, repair or regenerate lost, injured or diseased bone . Historically,
the gold standard has been to use either autografts (patient's own tissue) or
allografts (donor tissue). Such materials actively promote healing and new bone
formation by acting as biocompatible and osteoconductive structures that provide
mechanical support and promote bone formation. Whilst autografts are still used
in implanted bone procedures, limited availability and second site surgery
issues have shifted the market rapidly towards the use of allografts. However,
since allograft bone is not taken from the patient's own body, there is a higher
risk of rejection and disease transmission as well as reduced efficacy due to
reduced levels of growth factors present to stimulate the growth of new bone.
To avoid these problems, synthetic biomaterials are increasingly being used.
Bone grafts are used clinically in the treatment of many forms of bone tissue
defect, such as fracture misalignment or non-union, critical-sized defects,
maxillo-facial surgery and spinal fusion. An ideal bone graft substitute would
alleviate these problems and reduce the need for both allografts and autografts.
Currently, these traditional approaches constitute over 90% of all bone graft
procedures. The reason for this shortfall in the use of tissue-engineered bone or
osteoconductive synthetic scaffolds is that a biocompatible, mechanically
competent and osteoconductive scaffolds that could be used to produce complete
bone regeneration, still remain to be developed.
Our novel ceramic materials and fabrication and design technology will open up
opportunities for significantly improved interventions for treating large-bone
defects, especially in load-bearing applications, and will have clear
significance for bone tissue regeneration. This research will widen existing
biomimetic methods and promote the development of biomimetics as a discipline.