Researchers in the UK and U.S. are touting a new thermoplastic biomaterial capable of “fine-tuning” for use in soft tissue repair or bioelectronics.
According to a news release, the material, which is a type of polyester, has been developed by a team at the University of Birmingham (UK) and Duke University (U.S.) for use in repairing soft tissue or flexible bioelectronics by fine-tuning it to enable the rate at which it degrades in the body and allow its mechanical properties to be controlled independently.
The team has shown how the addition of succinic acid, which is naturally found within the body, can be used to control the degradation rate, allowing the polyester biomaterial to degrade gradually over a period of four months as healthy tissues grow in and eventually replace the implant. Tests in rats confirmed the material’s biocompatibility and safety, the researchers said.
Researchers determined that, by varying the amounts of succinic acid, they could control the rate at which water penetrates the material, leading to control over the degradation speed. Instead of a resulting loss of strength, the material was designed with specific stereochemistry mimicking natural rubber, compensating for loss of strength.
“Biological tissues are complex with varying elastic properties,” study co-author Andrew Dove said in the release. “Efforts to produce synthetic replacements that have the right physical characteristics and that can also degrade in the body have been ongoing for decades. Part of the challenge is that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach doesn’t work. Our research opens up the possibility of engineering biological implants with properties that can be fine-tuned for each specific application.”
“The materials we have developed offer a real advance in the ongoing search for new biomaterials,” added Duke professor Matthew Becker. “The tunable nature of the material makes it suitable for a range of different applications, from replacement bone to vascular stents to wearable electronics. Additional work to prove the biocompatibility of the material and its use in more advanced demonstration is ongoing.”