A printable adhesive for tissue and bone

Titanium hip implants do not last forever. Sooner or later they loosen and lose their grip on the bone as they recede over time. Researchers on Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP Together with Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial and Biochemical Engineering IGB and Fraunhofer USA Center for Manufacturing Innovation CMI, we have developed a tissue adhesive that can be used to avoid premature replacement of artificial organs in the future. A biomimetic, antimicrobial material applied to the titanium surface of the implant creates a bond with the bone – it sticks independently. Highlight: The fabric adhesive is printable and can even be printed on curved, uneven surfaces.

They are the bane of every boat owner: Mussels cling firmly to the outside and bottom of boats and the growth is difficult to remove. A protein containing the amino acid dihydroxyphenylalanine – also known as DOPA – is responsible for the adhesive effect of clams on surfaces. Researchers from Fraunhofer IAP at the Potsdam Science Park, in collaboration with Fraunhofer IGB and Fraunhofer USA CMI, have developed a biomimetic resin that mimics this property. It is characterized by exceptional adhesion and bonding properties and therefore has the potential to be used in various biomedical applications. For example, open wounds can be closed with it. The titanium surfaces of the implants can also be glued to it, so that the body recognizes the surface as a bone-like material and forms a bond with the bone.

» DOPA ensures more effective adhesion. We transferred this property to our resin by synthesizing polymers containing DOPA's chemical analog building block dopamine. The dopamine-based resin can be mixed with various additives, such as apatite particles – a material that teeth are made of – proteins and signaling molecules. These stimulate the growth of bone cells and can be used as a coating material for titanium implants, for example,” says Dr. Wolfdietrich Meyer, scientist at Fraunhofer IAP. The special coating makes the implant look more natural to the body and promotes healing and integration of the implant in the body. The bio-based, sustainably produced resin is antimicrobial. also has properties.

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Dopamine-based polymers are suitable not only for tissue adhesives, but also for the development of functional surfaces, antibacterial materials and intelligent coatings with special functions.

Photoreactive resin can be printed on uneven surfaces

The functionality of the resin can be enhanced by chemical synthesis. It can be modified to react to light. When irradiated with UV light, it hardens. This increases its adhesive effect. Photoreactive materials can be processed in 3D printing in the presence of UV radiation. In this way, complex structures can be created for customized medical implants.

A research team from the Fraunhofer Institutes IAP and IGB succeeded in making the resin printable by cross-linking polymers. “We basically created a print material for 3D printing,” says Meyer. At the manufacturing facility of the Fraunhofer Innovation Center in Boston, USA, the material was used for a three-dimensional titanium stem of the hip joint using a bioprinter.

In the future, researchers will work on solutions to make the adhesive flexible. “For example, if the surgeon misplaces the medical adhesive slightly, he can quickly correct this error and deactivate the effect of the adhesive,” explains the chemist.

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