Biomaterials are used to improve the treatments in the healthcare sector by fabricating the process that mimics a biological phenomenon. A biomaterial is a synthetic material which can be used to restore a function of body tissue or replace the tissue itself, while continuously being in contact with the body fluid. On doing this, they do not replace the original functionality of the tissues. For a material to qualify as a biomaterial there are certain criteria namely, the following:
- The material should be biocompatible and should not evoke any adverse response from the body
- It should be non-toxic and non-carcinogenic
- It should possess acceptable physical and mechanical properties that are suitable for replacement of tissues
For practical purposes, the material feasible for fabricating into different shapes, and should be readily available at a relatively low cost.
The use of biomaterials for healthcare applications dates back to ancient times. The evolution that followed has made it much adaptable and resourceful. It has revolutionized many trending areas of scientific interest such as bioengineering and tissue engineering, with its amazing ability to fight life threating diseases. Today’s biomaterial research is more focused with an emphasis on its application in the fabrication of artificial organs. The concepts of bioengineering, tissue engineering along with biomaterials have paved a way to treat different diseases like fractures, skin injuries and also, as dangerous as cardiac failure. The technology involved in making these treatments possible has given a scope to replace any kind of tissue which has been damaged either physically or through pathological processes. On the other hand, biomaterials are also acting as implant devices and are being applied in various healthcare areas like diagnostic kits, disposable medical devices, and polymeric therapeutics.
Here are some of the latest amazing breakthroughs made by biomaterials in revolutionizing the healthcare industry:
Nanofiber scaffolds that help direct cell behavior:
A team of scientists from Aalto University in Finland, along with Protobios, Tallinn University of Technology and CellIn Technologies has shown that nanofiber scaffolds have the potential for guiding the behavior of stem cells and cancer cells, by enabling them to act in a controlled way in vitro, which is different from the previous methods. These scaffolds are capable of imitating a native extracellular matrix which is capable of modulating cell differentiation. It helps in the evaluation of primary cells in varied conditions as they provide controlled conditions to assess factors with greater precision by varying parameters. The need for new advanced therapy medicinal products which is possible with tissue engineering, anti-cancer and neurological drug research, and associated areas such as toxicology, inspired them to work along these lines, which made this breakthrough possible.
Spider silk that offers cheap and accessible superlens:
A group of researchers from the University of Bangor and Oxford University in U.K. has shown for the first time that spider silk can be used to develop natural biological superlens. A cylindrical section of dragline spider silk from the golden web or Nephila spider improved upon the limit of a traditional microscope’s resolution by up to two or three times when applied to the surface of a material. This proves that the resolution barrier of the microscope can be broken by bio-superlens. This lens can be applied for viewing engineered nanostructures, and biological microstructures like germs and viruses. This lens can be used as microfiber lens, with imaging characteristics, mechanical and performance level, that is quite unique to the other superlenses that are currently available. With its ability to improve the imaging window size, the microfiber lens helps in achieving high-speed, large-area super-resolution imaging. Some of the areas where these lenses have been tested include nanoscopy, spectroscopy, and imaging.
Ginger nanoparticles that could help alleviate inflammatory bowel disease:
A research team led by Dr. Didier Merlin, along with Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, has shown that edible ginger-derived nanoparticles can assuage the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease. They tested three Ginger-derived nanoparticles, which was isolated from ginger juice and is purified using a sucrose gradient ultracentrifugation method. These particles were fed to lab mice and confirmed to be non-toxic. These ginger nanoparticles are absorbed mainly by cells in the lining of the intestines, at inflammation occurrence site. Also, they were shown to reduce and prevent acute and chronic colitis and colitis-associated cancer, and enhance intestinal repair. These ginger nanoparticles have a lot of significant therapeutic effects, which are very beneficial.
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