Recently, 45 faculty and students of the Engineering Research Center - Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials (ERC-RMB) from North Carolina A&T, University of Cincinnati, and University of Pittsburgh got together in Pittsburgh for the very first ERC workshop on Magnesium (Mg)-Based Screw Projects. The workshop was initiated by
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty member Savio Woo, PhD, DSc (pictured left), university professor, bioengineering department and founder and director of the Musculoskeletal Research Center, to tackle the challenges that the research groups in Engineering System-1: Orthopaedic and Maxillofacial Applications are facing in coordinating the research plans for years 4 and 5 based on the year 3 site visit by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the ERC’s funding government agency.
Nine organizers from the three institutions put together a program that consisted of seven sessions on topics ranging from clinical requirements to commercialization and intellectual property management. There was ample discussion between the participants and the workshop proved essential to foster collaboration between the ERC research groups in the development of more effective Mg-based screw projects.
The 5-year, $18.5 million ERC grant from the NSF includes the research efforts of dozens of engineers and doctors from universities and industries around the world who currently collaborate on the project announced September 4, 2008, to develop implantable devices made from biodegradable metals. The devices will be designed to adapt to physical changes in a patient’s body and dissolve once they have healed. Naturally dissolving plates, screws, stents, and other devices would reduce the follow-up surgeries and potential complications of major orthopedic, craniofacial, and cardiovascular procedures—sparing millions of patients worldwide added pain and medical expenses.
The biodegradable devices and smart structures are intended to reduce complications and spare patients with conditions ranging from cleft palate and bone fractures to coronary heart disease from undergoing multiple surgeries. For instance, children born with a cleft palate are fitted with hard metal devices that must be removed and refitted over time. Devices the ERC researchers will explore—crafted from magnesium alloys and other biodegradable metals—would adapt to the body without refitting. Plus, magnesium alloys can dissolve after their work is done with no clinical side effects, a feature also beneficial in the cardiovascular realm. Magnesium stents and other supports would restore cardiovascular function without needing to later remove the device and without exposing the patient to the potential complications of leaving devices inside the body.
Illustration: Dr. Woo (left) moderating Q&A after Dr. Matteo Tei's (right) presentation on clinical requirements in Session 1. –University of Pittsburgh.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine In the News: Regenerative Medicine, Biomaterials, Metallurgy, and Nano- and Sensor Technology Focus of Multi-University Collaborative Effort
Bio: Dr. Savio Woo