BioMicroElectroMechanical Systems for the promotion of bone regeneration
Paula Vilarinho, Maria Helena Fernandes, Sebastian Zlotnik and Marisa Costa submit new european patent.

Researchers from CICECO, University of Aveiro (UAveiro) have developed a MicroElectromechanical device for biomedical applications, aimed at promoting bone growth by using a biocompatible metallic substrate, coated with an electrically functionalized layer. The work also involved the respective production method. The patent in European territory has already been granted.

Biomedical metals are commonly used as bone support and fixation elements due, in particular, to their remarkable mechanical properties. However, their poor bioactivity and consequent low osseointegration (functional anchorage in natural bone tissue), has motivated research and development on these substrates to endow them with different biological functions. Several types of metal implant surface modification have emerged as promising strategies for improving osseointegration and corrosion resistance of implants, although there are still limitations.

The research group from CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, led by Paula Vilarinho, professor at the Department of Materials and Ceramic Engineering (DEMaC), in collaboration with Maria Helena Fernandes, also a professor at DEMaC, Sebastian Zlotnik and Marisa Costa, has 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.

"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 European level, has applications in biomedicine, namely in the manufacture of BioMicroElectromechanical devices designed to promote bone tissue regeneration, consequently reducing the rejection rate, the replacement of permanent implants, and ex vivo (outside the body) and in vivo (inside the body) biological growth of tissues, among others.

These systems were developed in the scope of the BioMEMs project - "Advanced BioMEMs for tissue engineering: applications in hard tissue", POCI-01-0145-FEDER-032095, and have already been subject to further developments beyond those reported in the patent, provided by new members of this research team: Júlio Rocha, Maxim Ivanov and Noelle Zanini.

The first in vivo trials were conducted after the national patent was filed and led to very promising results. The programming of more targeted animal experimentation is underway, which will allow further evaluation of the medical device in accordance with current European regulations. These studies are being conducted in close collaboration with Ana Colete Mauricio, professor at the Department of Veterinary Clinics, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, University of Porto, and her research group.

This invention is protected by a European patent. At a later stage than the initial application, an international patent application was filed, followed by protection on European territory, and the European patent has recently been granted. It will also be possible to extend protection to certain European territories of interest.

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