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September 11, 2008

Pitt team to develop implantable biodegradable devices

Pitt researchers will team with engineers and doctors from universities and industries around the world for a five-year, $18.5 million project to develop implantable devices made from biodegradable metals.

The devices will be designed to adapt to physical changes in a patient’s body and dissolve once the patient’s body has healed. This is expected to reduce follow-up surgeries and potential complications of major orthopaedic, craniofacial and cardiovascular procedures, potentially sparing millions of patients worldwide added pain and medical expenses.

Pitt belongs to the project’s central partnership along with the University of Cincinnati and the project’s lead institution, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT). Serving as deputy director of the project is William Wagner, deputy director of Pitt’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and professor of surgery, bioengineering and chemical engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering.

The project stems from a five-year Engineering Research Center (ERC) grant NCAT received from the National Science Foundation. The grant supports large-scale university and industry collaborations on pioneering technologies. Five grants were awarded this year; only 29 universities in the past 25 years have received an ERC grant.

The ERC project primarily will focus on producing three technologies: biodegradable and self-adapting devices and smart constructs for craniofacial and orthopaedic reconstructive procedures; similarly behaving cardiovascular devices such as stents, and miniaturized sensing systems that monitor and control the safety and effectiveness of biodegradable metals inside the body.

Other partners include Germany’s Hannover Medical School for support in medical implantology. The Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India, will provide a global prospective on the research and application of nano- and biomaterials. California State University-Los Angeles, a designated Hispanic serving institution, will conduct bioscience research to help engage underrepresented students.

Nearly 30 product development and industrial partners in the nano- and biotechnology market will form a consortium with ERC to provide input for the direction of research and to help transfer ERC technology to patients.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 41 Issue 2

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