The researchers recently received a patent for their implant comprised of bioactive glasses and metals that dissolve at the end of their operational lifespan. They see the potential for replacing other types of implants and eliminating the need for invasive removal once they have served their purpose.
“Glass is an excellent material for packaging and substrate layers in implanted solid-state devices including sensors and actuators,” Missouri S&T professor and graduate coordinator of electrical engineering at Missouri S&T Dr. Chang-Soo Kim said in a news release. “Depending on the combination of materials, you can develop a bioactive glass that degrades very slowly or very quickly, based on the required operational time for the device.”
Kim worked with professor of ceramic engineering Dr. Richard Brow of Missouri S&T and Dr. Delbert Day, a professor emeritus of ceramic engineering, with Kim designing the electrical functions of the devices and Brow and Day designing the glasses used in the implants. Dr. Matthew O’Keefe, a former professor of metallurgical engineering at Missouri S&T, also contributed.
According to Kim, the resorbable implants benefit patients by eliminating the need for the additional invasive surgery that removes a sensor or another functional device when it is no longer needed, while biodegradable devices are designed to be implanted in the brain or other organs deep inside the body and can even be used for drug delivery or tissue healing.
“Bioactive glasses are a unique strength of Missouri S&T,” Missouri S&T vice-chancellor of research & graduate studies Dr. Costas Tsatsoulis said. “Since Dr. Day received a patent in 2002 for glass microspheres used in radiation therapy, new bioactive glasses have played an important role in healing and medical therapy.”