30.06.2017 change 14.11.2017

Bioactive implants will help millions of women with women's diseases

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Innovative bioactive polymer implants designed for surgical treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction - pelvic organ prolapse and stress incontinence - have been developed by an international consortium of scientists, including researchers from Lodz University of Technology.

"After implantation, the implant will allow the body to regenerate tissue naturally, and it will gradually dissolve in the body, it will biodegrade" - told PAP co-creator of the implant Dr. Radosław Wach from the Faculty of Chemistry of Lodz University of Technology. According to the researchers, the introduction of such fully functional implants to the market will reduce the risks associated with treatment, shorten hospitalisation time, improve the life quality of patients and reduce the cost of treatment.

The four-year project has been financed by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme of the EU. It was carried out by 10 partners from 5 countries - Estonia, Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Poland. The Polish partner was Lodz University of Technology that was also the scientific and technical coordinator of the project.

The main objective of the project was to develop a methodology for obtaining implantable polymeric biomaterials, characterized by specific bioactivity. "The implants are mesh slings intended to be used for the surgical treatment of female genital tract disorders as well as stress urinary incontinence. These problems affect a large proportion of women who gave birth naturally" - explained Dr. Wach.

Various methods are currently used to treat these conditions, and one of the most effective of them is implantation of a polymer mesh slings. The implants used so far are non-biodegradable (they are mainly polypropylene mesh slings) and cause serious complications that often require additional surgical intervention.

"We would like to apply a solution that would not remain in the body of a woman and instead would gradually biodegrade" - the scientist emphasised. The developed solution in the form of a biodegradable polymer mesh allows not only to support or replace the weakened tissue, but ultimately to rebuild it, also due to the bioactivity of the implant.

Implants contain bioactive additives in their polymer structure. These are peptide molecules designed to prevent potential infections, as well as support the body in its natural tendency to regenerate and repair the damaged tissue.

"RGD amino acid sequences allow and facilitate cell attachment in the body, it\'s transformation into the right kind of tissue that will eventually replace the implant that will degrade over time" - Dr Wach explained.

In the project, researchers have obtained a number of different types of implants with slightly different properties, and selected the most optimal ones that can be used in the future. In their opinion, from the point of view of solving a clinical problem, the most important properties are: the biodegradability of the implant, which is dissolved in the body after serving its role, and bioactivity. "It seems to me that this is our greatest achievement in this project" - said the researcher from Łódź.

The team from Lodz University of Technology was primarily responsible for designing polymer implants, selecting the best method for their sterilization, and investigating its impact on the implant\'s usefulness. "Each implant or biomaterial implanted into the body must be sterile, that is, it must not contain potentially harmful microorganisms. We also participated in the development of the key properties of these implants and performed a number of physico-chemical studies" - said Dr. Radosław Wach.

In addition, the Polish team was involved in the biological work, namely preparing and carrying out in vitro biocompatibility studies using cells, as well as in vivo testing of new biomaterials and finished implants in small animals.

The new implants must now undergo long-term clinical trials, which is the responsibility of the Danish company involved in the project. "We expect that the implants we have designed, created and tested may be put into clinical practice in 4 years" - the researcher concluded.

The project was co-financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. (PAP)

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