Swedish scientists develop 3D printed bioceramic implants that can induce skull regeneration

Bioceramic implants stimulate the regeneration of natural skull, so even large skull defects can be repaired in ways that were not possible before. A research team consisting of the University of Gothenburg, Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University has developed an implant called BioCer, which was published in the scientific journal PNAS on October 27, 2020.

The current reconstruction of skull defects poses significant challenges to patients, healthcare systems and society. Ideally, materials introduced into the defect site should promote biological responses to structural and functional recovery of the defective site.

Due to the different sources of bone, bone implantation is divided into autologous bone grafting and allogeneous bone grafting. Autologous bone grafting fills in defects by collecting bone from other parts of the body. However, relatively high rates of absorption, protrusion and infection, as well as high morbidity at the donor site, remain major obstacles. Several allogeneic materials have been introduced as alternatives, including polymethyl methacrylate, poly-ether-ether-ketone (PEEK), polyethylene, titanium and injectable/moldable calcium phosphate-based bone cement. The main disadvantage of these materials is poor bone and soft tissue integration, which can lead to implant exposure, infection, and eventually implant shedding. Grafting bone from other parts of the body at the same time carries risks in both sites, namely the risk of removing and placing tissue. Cranioplasty, while common, has a high complication rate and cost, requiring new, innovative solutions based on biomaterials.

Therefore, a research team from the University of Gothenburg, Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University in Sweden developed an implant called BioCeramics. It is made from a proprietary 3D printed bioceramic material (mainly composed of the mineral montmorillonite) mounted on a titanium frame shaped like a hole to be filled.

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