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Scientists develop new Material for Artificial Bone Implants

Researchers at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore have developed a new polymer nanocomposite that can help bone implants. The team of researchers under Prof. Bikramjit Basu at the Material Research Center are behind this innovation. This new polymer nanocomposite is manufactured by mixing high-density polyethylene (HDPE) with polyethylene grafted graphene oxide in melt extruder. This composite has shown enhanced mechanical and cytocompatibility properties with respect to neat HDPE. “The main aim of our research is to develop a prototype of acetabular socket for hip implant with dimensions specially suited for Indian patients", says Rahul Upadhyay, one of the researcher in the team. 

Age takes a toll on our bone health leading to diseases like osteoarthritis, osteonecrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Rapid advancement in technology has enabled in treating such disease by surgical replacement of the worn out bone with materials that mimic bone. The implant material needs to have similar mechanical properties and must be non-toxic to the tissues around it. Implant materials available today are expensive and might not the exact properties of the bone, thus causing infections and revision surgeries. But, this new polymer nanocomposite developed at IISc promises to solve few of these issues. "This materialsupports growth of stem cells and bone cells parallely. It has high wear resistance, light weight, better life time and can be manufactured at a low cost", says Mr. Upadhyay.

The researchers had to ascertain that the new polymer nanocomposite was compatible with the tissues of the human body and do not cause any toxic effects. To test this, they grew two types of cells - osteoblast cells (bone cell) and human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), on the material. Osteoblast cells form new bone in our body and hMSCs are stem cells that differentiate into a variety of cell types in our body. These cells showed enhance proliferation and increased metabolic activity on the developed polymer nanocomposite that indicates its suitability as a perfect material for bone implants.

The mechanical strength of the material was also tested and the results showed the new material has moderate load bearing capability and hence less prone to mechanical damage. “This material could be a promising candidate for moderate load bearing orthopedic applications," believes Mr. Upadhyay.

About the Authors:Rahul Upadhyay is a research scholar at the Material Research Centre, IISc, Sharmistha Naskar is a research scholar at the Center for Biosystems Science and Engineering, IISc, Nitu Bhaskar is a postdoctoral researcher at the Material Research Centre, IISc, Suryasarathi Bose is an assistant professor at the Materials Engineering, IISc, and Bikramjit Basu is a professor at the Material Research Centre, IISc.

About the Research: This work has been published in the journal of ACS Applied materials & interfaces as an article titled “Modulation of Protein Adsorption and Cell Proliferation on Polyethylene Immobilized Graphene Oxide Reinforced HDPE Bionanocomposites” DOI: 10.1021/acsami.6b00946