The research group of CICECO-Instituto de Materials de Aveiro, led by Paula Vilarinho, professor at the Department of Materials and Ceramics Engineering (DEMaC), in collaboration with Maria Helena Fernandes, also a professor at DEMaC, Sebastian Zlotnik, and Marisa Costa, developed a MicroElectromechanical device for biomedical applications, aimed at promoting bone growth, through the use of a biocompatible metallic substrate, coated with an electrically functionalized layer, as well as its production method. The patent on European territory has already been granted.
Biomedical metals are commonly used as bone support and fixation elements, particularly due to their remarkable mechanical properties. However, its weak bioactivity and consequent low osseointegration (functional anchorage in natural bone tissue) have motivated investigations and developments in these substrates to endow them with different biological functions. Several types of surface modification of metallic implants have emerged as promising strategies for improving osseointegration and corrosion resistance of implants, although there are still limitations.
“These systems have a higher rate of calcium phosphate formation, a greater capacity for protein adsorption and cell adhesion and proliferation, promoting better integration and regeneration of the host bone tissue”, explains Paula Vilarinho.
Devices that promote bone regeneration
This technology, now patented at the European level, has applications in the field of biomedicine, namely in the manufacture of BioMicroElectromechanical devices intended to promote bone tissue regeneration, consequently reducing the rejection rate, replacement of permanent implants and ex vivo biological growth ( outside the organism) and in vivo (inside the organism) of tissues, among others.
These systems were developed within the scope of the BioMEMs project – “Advanced BioMEMs for tissue engineering: applications in hard tissue”, POCI-01-0145-FEDER-032095, having already been the subject of developments in addition to those reported in the patent, ensured by the new members of this research team: Júlio Rocha, Maxim Ivanov, and Noelle Zanini.
The first in vivo tests were carried out after the registration of the national patent and led to very promising results. The programming of more targeted animal experimentation is underway, which will allow the evaluation of the medical device to continue, in accordance with the European regulations in force. These studies are being conducted in close collaboration with Ana Colete Mauricio, professor at the Department of Veterinary Clinics, Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Porto, and her research group.
This invention is protected by a European patent. At a later stage of the initial application, an international patent application was advanced, and then protection in the European territory, with the European patent having been recently granted. It will also be possible to extend protection to certain European territories of interest.