Bioglass helping to mend bones
[…] Bones are capable of regenerating themselves if they suffer slight damage. But if the damage is above a certain degree, bone lacks the capability of mending itself. When breaks are too big, bones need to be helped. Even today, metal nails or other components are often inserted to help these breaks to mend. So, once the bone has mended, a second operation has to be performed to extract these components. The aim of these new materials or implants is, among other things, to obviate the need for the second operation.
These materials or implants that are of interest in medicine have to meet a number of requirements before they can be used in therapeutic applications. Among other things, the materials have to be biocompatible, in other words, they must not damage the cells or the organism itself. At the same time, being biodegradable is also a very interesting property, so that the body will easily convert them into metabolic products that are not toxic. But other factors also have to be taken into consideration: mechanical robustness and the straightforward nature of the production process, for example.
With all this in mind, the UPV/EHU researchers are synthesising and shaping tailor-made bioimplants. The main component, on the whole, tends to be a biodegradable polymer, in other words, one that will gradually disappear as the bone occupies its own place. As the polymer is too soft, bioglass was added to the polymer in this piece of work. Bioglass is a bioactive agent and helps the bone to regenerate; what is more, it gives the polymer tough mechanical properties. So the biodegradable polymer/bioglass composite system is stiffer and tougher than the polymer alone. […]