The new process could improve the lifes of people who have undergone complicated total joint replacement surgeries so they can better walk, run and ultimately avoid rejection of the implant by their bodies.
"The surface chemistry, structure and morphology of our new coatings resemble biological material," explains Prof. Noam Eliaz of the TAU School of Mechanical Engineering. "We have been able to enhance the integration of the coating with the mineralized tissue of the body, allowing more peoples' bodies to accept implants."
Prof. Eliaz's advance is in the application technique of the coatings rather than the elements used in the coatings themselves. Instead of the traditional plasma-spraying technique, he and his team have developed a way to electrochemically deposit synthetic hydroxyapatite. In place of plasma-spraying the coating onto the metal, the metal implant is dipped into a bath of electrolyte solution and an electric current is applied.
Prof. Eliaz has discovered that his method of coating circumvents the disadvantages of plasma- spraying. The electrochemical process allows synthetic hydroxyapatite to more closely mimic the real material. Examined under a microscope, it is virtually indistinguishable from the body's own material ― which helps the body accept a new implant.
The next-generation coating will include nano-particles to reinforce the coating. It will also have the potential to incorporate biological material or drugs during the process itself.
"We can incorporate biological materials because the electrochemical process works at lower temperatures”, says Prof. Eliaz. "The reinforcement of nanoparticles will improve the mechanical properties and may also improve the biological response. Drug incorporation may reduce the risk of post-surgery infection and even catalyze the growth of the bone."
MEDICA.de; Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University