Comparing biocompatibilities of 3D-printed absorbable metal implants

by Holger Jahr, Uniklinik RWTH Aachen

Additively manufactured absorbable porous metal implants possess promising mechanical and degradation properties in vitro and thus hold potential to meet various clinical applications. A reliable evaluation of these novel implants, however, requires an improved predictability of their biocompatibility and in vivo degradation characteristics from in vitro results. Current pre-clinical in vitro evaluation of medical devices still occurs under largely static culture conditions, while dynamic interstitial fluid flow regulates clearance of degradation products in vivo.

We used direct metal printing to additively manufacture standardized porous 3D scaffolds of all three currently known members of absorbable metal families (Zn, Mg, Fe). We further comprehensively compared their electrochemical, mechanical, and biological behavior in vitro. The porous metal scaffolds were biologically evaluated under standardized conditions, mimicking a rather physiological microenvironment in vitro. While all materials revealed principally suitable biomechanical properties for bone repair after up to four weeks of simulated in vitro degradation, their biological evaluation was surprisingly different.



What drives you?
Curiosity and passion.

Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
..because our research is highly cited and apparently attractive.

What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
Additive manufacturing of personalized medical devices and bioprinting.

What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Improving future medical care.

What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
Regulations and health care systems.

“Special quote”
Are Zinc, Magnesium, Iron – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of absorbable metal technology?

About Holger Jahr

I studied biology (biochemistry, physiology, genetics) and graduated in microbiology and gene technology (MSC, Hons) in Bielefeld/Germany. After my PhD, I joined the Dept. of Molecular Genetics in Groningen (The Netherlands) to set up a first custom-spotted DNA microarray facility. Soon thereafter, I joined Erasmus MC (Depts. Internal Medicine/Orthopaedics) in Rotterdam to co-develop a novel dynamic diagnostic Chip for skeletal disease profiling in collaboration with industry.

I am interested in how chondrocytes survive in their constantly changing physicochemical environment, their cell signalling, matrix turnover and the cell’s extra- and intracellular microenvironmental stimuli. I am convinced that understanding these cues, and their influence on the cell’s transcriptome, metabolome, proteome and pharmacokinetics, is key to developing better disease-modifying drugs to treat major age-related diseases like osteoarthritis.

During the past 5 years, as Head of Orthopaedic Research, I continued along the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine expertise that I acquired while working for a dozen years for one of the Netherlands’ top University Medical Centers in Rotterdam.

Now, as Head of Biomaterials and Molecular Musculoskeletal Research at the Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology, my goals are to develop more physiologically relevant ex-vivo cell culture systems to better understand which factors control proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes and progenitor cells during wound repair. Furthermore, these systems are also essential to study biomaterial-cell interactions with the novel biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue repair that I am developing. I am proud that my work on additively manufactured, resorbable metal implants received the 2017 Klee Family Innovation Award.

My personal motto: Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.

About Uniklinik RWTH Aachen

Uniklinik RWTH Aachen is a Hospital and Health Care company located in Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

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