Dr Leandro Bolzoni from the University of Waikato’s School of Engineering has been awarded a Health Research Council explorer grant worth $150,000 to research bone regeneration using alternative synthetic materials for joint replacements.
The project entitled “Towards bone regeneration by developing electroactive hybrid materials” has been created in response to the growing increase demand for joint replacements arising from a worldwide ageing population.
Currently metallic implants are most commonly used, but due to being a much stiffer material than human bones, the implants causes osteoporosis and eventual loosening of the implant. Revision surgery is then needed to repair this.
“The main approach of the scientific community is to decrease the intrinsic stiffness of the material but this also decreases the structural integrity of the prosthesis,” says Dr Bolzoni.
“We propose to develop electroactive hybrid materials that could prevent osteoporosis as they are able to generate electrical stimuli once they’re in place.”
Dr Bolzoni says bones are composed of hydroxyapatite and therefore are responsive to electrical stimuli.
“The use of powder metallurgy techniques for the formulation and fabrication of these novel hybrid materials permits us to locally tailor their composition and performances, and to obtain customisable implants with adjustable structural and functional properties depending on the specific biomedical application.”
Dr Leandro Bolzoni’s research grant is part of a portfolio of 11 explorer grants worth a combined total of $1.65million funded in the current round by Health Research Council.