Developing highly biocompatible implants, surgical instruments and consumables requires knowledge of the interactions between biomolecules, cells and artificial materials. The Biological Materials Analysis workgroup therefore pursues a cross-disciplinary approach. Materials, medical products and diagnostic techniques are optimized for use with and in humans – at the intersection of materials science, immunobiology, cell biology and biotechnological analysis methods.
At the core of our work are our specially developed methods and bioassays. We use them to characterize and validate (immuno-)biological properties of implant materials and medical products. This enables the analysis and targeted modification of (bioceramic) materials, functionalizing them for a defined purpose of use.
Biological and immunological test methods for implant materials
The Biological Materials Analysis workgroup is active in the field of implant development, working to advance immunologically effective bioceramic materials. It develops standardized test methods for novel (bioceramic) implant materials, in particular for dental and endoprosthetic applications.
The long-term goal is to develop material surfaces with modular or hierarchic structures, which enable patient- or disease-specific therapeutic applications. Thus, it will be possible to validate diagnostic rapid tests and methods for materials characterization, and introduce and establish them in day-to-day practice.
Biointerface studies on bioceramics – an example
The importance of ceramic biomaterials for the field of implantology is growing. Factors, such as material surface, protein adsorption or cell and tissue type affect the interaction within the ‘biointerface’, i.e. the boundary interface layer between the biological system and the ceramic material surface.
The assessment of the biocompatibility of a material is currently performed through in-vitro testing based on ISO standards (ISO10993). Standardized test methods focusing on the interaction of the material with blood are few and far between, as the patient-specific blood responses are very complex and diverse. When the biomaterial comes into contact with blood, this will activate blood coagulation and an inflammatory reaction. The first phase of this reaction – the primary adhesion of blood proteins – is essential for the initialization of an immune response. For this reason, standardized laboratory methods should be developed further for this initial phase, and new technologies should be established with a resolution on the nanoscale. These will allow detailed analysis of the protein adsorption on bioceramic and other material surfaces.