Mussel-inspired adhesives will bond in human implants

Written by: Tom Shelley | Published:

Researchers in Germany are developing a UV hardenable adhesive technology to bond implants into the human body

The project is in the hands of Dr Klaus Rischka at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research IFAM in Bremen and partners at the Frankfurt University Hospital, the Centre of Biotechnical Engineering BitZ at Darmstadt University, the State Materials Testing Institute MPA and the implant manufacturer Straumann in Freiburg.
The idea is inspired by mussels, which firmly attach themselves to rocks despite the actions of the sea, thanks to a special protein. Chemists at IFAM can synthetically reproduce the key elements and have already used them in a joint project with the European Space Agency to develop an adhesive for repairs in manned space flight.
For medical applications, there is an additional need for a growth protein, which can also be made synthetically, in order to stimulate cell growth. A third polymer component is added as a carrier. The immediate aim of the project, thought to be five to ten years away from use in humans, is to come up with a means to bond titanium dental implants to jaw bones in such a way as to keep out bacteria.

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