Engineering Know-how Accelerates Implant Healing



Dental implants typically take 2 to 4 months to heal. Yet research from the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry uses principles gleaned from electrical engineering to accelerate that process to 5 weeks. Also, the results could be extended to other bone implant systems.

“In this study, we showed that the fabrication of nanoscale films as coatings for implantable devices healed large bone defects within a 5-week period,” said Dr. Azhar Ilyas, a postdoctoral research associate who works in the lab of assistant professor Dr. Venu Varanasi at the school.

“The beauty of our work is that we can tune and tweak the material’s properties in such a way that the bone chemistry of the newly generated bone exactly matches the surrounding bone,” added Ilyas, who has a BS in electrical engineering, enabling him to use high-precision, nanoscale fabrication methods applied in semiconductors and solar cells.

Since oral and maxillofacial bone has different biochemical properties, Ilyas said, he and his colleagues can modify the material properties accordingly. Changes on the bone’s surface and at the cellular level complement each other.

“The surface chemistry promotes osteogenesis while nanostructured surface morphology enhances cellular response and improves osteointegration via mechanical bonding,” Ilyas said.

The research is funded by a $228,000 National Institutes of Health R03 grant and supplementary grants. Ilyas also has received a merit-based travel award from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Postdoctoral Association to present his work at the 2016 American Association for Dental Research annual meeting in Los Angeles, March 16-19.

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