Chemists at the University of Helsinki have created a method of using nanofibers and thin-film biomaterials as orthopedic scaffolds to help regenerate bones and to help implants settle into their new home.
The nanofibers are made of electrospun hydroxyapatite, a naturally occuring mineral form of calcium apatite. The team developed a new, needleless twisted wire, method for creating them.
The materials produced using the new technique can promote new tissue growth and help the healing process along. They are biodegradable and would exit the body after some time, and so won’t need to be explanted in a separate procedure.
Some details from the study abstract:
New processes were developed for various biomaterials and their properties were thoroughly characterized. A method to convert CaCO3 nanostructures to nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite (HA) by treatment in phosphate solution was used to prepare HA thin films and fibers from atomic layer deposited (ALD) and electrospun CaCO3, respectively. HA fibers were also fabricated conventionally by annealing electrospun composite fibers that incorporated Ca and P precursors. Biocomposite fibers of HA nanoparticles and polylactic acid (nHA/PLA) were directly electrospun. These different nanofibers are highly interesting for bone scaffolds owing to their high surface area and the structural similarity to the fibrous nanostructure found in bone. However, conventional electrospinning is limited by its modest production rate. A needleless twisted wire electrospinning (NTWE) setup was developed to increase the production rate and was studied for the preparation of HA fibers for the bone scaffolds. Solution blow spinning (SBS) and electroblowing (EB) of HA were studied as other upscaling alternatives.