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$866K Study to Improve Biocompatibility of Medical Implants

June 21, 2006

Given the world-wide increase in aging populations and projections of their projected growth, coupled with continuing development of new implantable devices, it is clear that improving the biocompatibility of implants is becoming increasingly important. Researchers in the Colleges of Engineering and Science at The University of Texas at Arlington are using a grant from the National Institutes of Health to do just that.

Dr. Liping Tang of the Bioengineering Department in the College of Engineering and Dr. Richard Timmons of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department in the College of Science have teamed for a three-year project. Their goal is to better understand the mechanisms involved in biomaterial-mediated tissue responses and the role(s) of material surface properties in affecting the extent of tissue responses to material implants. They are currently one year into the project and have made good progress.

“It’s natural for white blood cells to respond to any foreign body,” said Dr. Tang. “They cling to the surface and, if they’re unable to destroy the invader, produce a fibrotic capsule or ‘scar tissue’ to cover the implants. We want to develop implantable materials that not only generate the desired tissue response, but also reduce inflammatory responses and improve the wound healing process. We’ve done this by changing the chemical and physical properties of implantable materials.”

An additional benefit of their research will be improvements in drug delivery. Drug eluting particles can be developed with physical and chemical properties that are favorable for increased biocompatibility, eliminating rejection and making a drug more effective for a longer period of time.

The two have completed animal tests and are now exploring collaborations with the medical device and drug delivery industry.