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The development of next generation antibacterial Ti implants


Project description

The development of next generation antibacterial Ti implants with integrated chemical and topographical modifications

General description:

Bone implant failure is mainly caused by infection due to bacterial infiltration and biofilm formation, in addition to aseptic loosening. The current practice to treat implant infection is revision surgeries plus antibiotics. The process is long, painful and costly. More seriously, most bacteria causing such infections have become antibiotics resistant. There is an urgent need to develop new implants with antibacterial functions that are independent of antibiotics to treat possible implant infection while securing long-term implant fixation. 

There are two major approaches in developing new antibacterial biomaterials. One is to functionalise existing materials with chemical antibacterial agents. The other is to generate surface nanotopographies by mimicking the naturally functional surfaces of insects and other organs. The related studies constitute one of the hottest topics of the current biomaterials research. Both approaches have shown effective antibacterial capabilities but limitations at the same time. 

This proposed collaboration between Brunel University London, UK (Brunel) and the Institute of Metal Research, the Chinese Sciences Academy, China (IMR) sees opportunities to explore the benefits of integrating chemical and topographical modifications in the development of new generation orthopaedic and dental implants. The project will focus on the combined chemical and topographical antibacterial behaviour, aiming to develop novel titanium implants with maximized antibacterial functions. The research will include material fabrication, surface modification, biophysical characterization and bactericidal mechanism observations, etc.  

The proposed research addresses the most urgent and core problems of orthopaedic and dental implants and will have a strong impact on the development of new generation biomaterials. 

Impact statement:

The proposed project will demonstrate the effect of integrated chemical and topographical modification on the antibacterial performance for titanium implants. The UK research will benefit directly from the scientific deliverables from the project, which include the principles of antibacterial biomaterial design, fabrication technology, and the detailed knowledge of surface nanotopography control, antibacterial performance and bactericidal mechanisms for the targeted Ti-Cu implants. These deliverables represent critical advances in the development of new generation titanium implants and will inspire other UK researchers for further scientific and technical progress in this and a wider field of biomaterials research. Ultimately, the research will lead to effective solutions to solve the problems of orthopaedic and dental implant infection, improving the quality of UK health care.

The research will particularly strengthen UK’s leading position in the research of solidification processing for light alloys, by applying the advanced high shear melt treatment technology to the casting of high quality biomedical Ti-Cu alloys. 

Working with Chinese scientists, the UK research not only gains from cutting edge innovation but also remains engaged in the rising R&D power of China, which will facilitate the commercial exploitation of UK research outcomes and benefit future UK research. 

This collaboration will strengthen the current research in biomaterials and also broadens the research area for both Brunel and IMR. The project promotes a set of skills across boundaries of conventional disciplines by the application of novel solidification and surface modification processesand various advanced techniques for microstructural, topographical and biophysical characterization. All participants will benefit from sharing general expertise and special know-hows between the two sides. 

About Dr Yan Huang

Dr Huang leads metallic biomaterials research at Brunel, with interests in both traditional permanent titanium implants and novel biodegradable magnesium medical devices for orthopaedic applications. He recently won three research grants in biomaterials research from the Royal society, EPSRC and European Commission (EC). The EC project -New Generation of Orthopaedic Biomaterials (EC/FP7, €318K/€1,504K, completed on 31/10/2016) was conducted with 9 partners across Europe and successfully developed novel beta-type TiNbTa alloys with low modulus and high wear resistance through porosity control in the matrix and surface modification by oxidation (to form titanium dioxide) or zinc oxide coating. This work forms the foundation for the proposed research.

Dr Huang is a founding member and co-investigator of the EPSRC Future Liquid Metal Engineering (LiME) HUB where he leads the activities on process development and light alloy processing involving both solidification and plastic deformation. The host BCAST is a world leading solidification research centre and leads the EPSRC Future LiME Hub with £10m funding from EPSRC and over £45m investment from industrial partners. BCAST is uniquely equipped for light alloy casting and has, jointly with the Brunel Experimental Techniques Centre, a wide range of advanced facilities for material preparation, surface processing and characterization.