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Advances in medicine - important new projects


Connect, no. 110, January/February 2001, p.1

Advances in medicine

TWI, Cambridge University and Addenbrookes Hospital have joined forces on two new projects to enhance the biocompatibility of polymers and to advance the application of biocements in orthopaedic surgery.

Work on the enhancement of biocompatibility of polymers using lasers began at TWI in the early 1990s. The objective of the present work is to use power beams, particularly lasers, to generate topographical and chemical modifications on surfaces of medical grade polymeric materials to improve cellular adhesion and response, to enhance biocompatibility.

Biocompatibility is critically dependent on the surface of a biomaterial since this is the part that first comes into direct contact with the physiological environment. Within the initial stages of exposure to tissue or blood, biomolecules are adsorbed onto the surface of the biomaterial usually followed by cellular interactions which can be affected by both surface topography and chemistry. This project will use different power beams to induce specific photo, thermal, photothermal or photochemical reactions to achieve desirable modifications to polymer surfaces.

Bone tissue has the distinct ability to self-repair following a fracture over a period of weeks/months, provided that the fractured ends are brought into close proximity. However, there are situations in which a suitable interfacial material is necessary but no one solution is ideal in providing the appropriate mechanical and biological performance. The work in this project has the objective of developing and assessing an injectable biocement for bone fracture fixation.

These two projects started in October 2000 and are supported by TWI under the Postgraduate Training Programme (PTP). They are conducted by research associates Fiona Rahman and Vicki Corfield and led by Dr Mehdi Tavakoli of TWI,Professor Bill Bonfield and Dr Ruth Cameron of Cambridge University, Neil Rushton, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and head of the Orthopaedic Research Unit and Dr Roger Brookes of Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge.

For more information on either of these projects, please contact us.

For more information please email:


contactus@twi.co.uk