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Bioactive Film Improves Bone Implants in Animal Study

Postdoctoral Researcher John Durham

Postdoctoral Researcher John Durham

Researchers have developed a technique for coating polymer implants with a bioactive film that significantly increases bonding between the implant and surrounding bone in an animal model. The advance could significantly improve the success rate of such implants, which are often used in spinal surgeries. The work was done by postdoctoral researcher John Durham and professor Afsaneh Rabiei at NC State and collegues at the University of Cambridge and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The polymer in question is called polyether ether ketone, or PEEK, which has mechanical properties similar to bone, making it attractive for use in spinal implants. But it doesn’t bond well with bone.

To solve the problem, the researchers coated the polymer with a substance called hydroxyapatite, or HA, which is a calcium phosphate that bonds well with bone. They then used microscopic evaluations of tissue cells and three-dimensional X-ray imaging to assess the performance of three types of implants.

Eighteen weeks after surgery, the researchers found that both types of HA-coated implants had more than double the bone formation of PEEK alone, with comparable bone density. The HA-treated implants also had higher bone-to-implant contact ratios than PEEK alone.

This article was originally published by NC State News.