TSU scientists have effectively combined implants with biological tissues

The main challenge reconstruction surgeons face when using current materials for tissue defects treatment is implant rejection, which can further complicate the lives of people impacted by physical trauma. Tomsk State University scientists developed a universally valid method for adjusting implants’ properties to a person’s biological tissues. Concurrently, they compiled a classification system for materials and tissues to streamline the work of materials scientists and surgeons.

“When choosing the right implant, a surgeon has to rely on their professional, yet subjective, experience”, Ekaterina Marchenko, head of the TSU Laboratory of Superelastic Biointerfaces, explains. “Even when we have a high-quality biocompatible material, we still have to decide how to insert it and make sure it does not damage the adjacent tissues. When using fine wire mesh reinforcement, there is a chance it will not provide the necessary compression and fail to fixate an implant; a thicker one could cause perforation of adjacent tissues, inflammation, and rejection.”

Ekaterina Marchenko, head of the TSU Laboratory of Superelastic Biointerfaces

TSU scientists set the goal to create a method for fusing the living and the human-made, and the task has proven to be complicated. When working with metallic materials, it is vital to consider the many facets of classical mechanics, which include the laws of plasticity, elasticity, and so on.

“We know how to define the human-made materials,” shares Ekaterina Marchenko. “We also know how to define tissues rheology-wise as well as in consideration to how they interact with fluids. But which criteria should we rely on when fusing the human-made and the living? Which parameters can we use to define these in a uniform manner given that they are completely different in nature?”

TSU scientists developed a technique for choosing the right implants for specific tissues

When solving the task, the team resorted to modeling: Through modeling, scientists found out how they can assess the biomechanical make-up of materials that have different structures and similar behavior. The new approach helped categorize a wide array of materials and tissues.

“Now we know for sure which parameters to pick each time,” Ekaterina Marchenko continues. “For example, we know that muscles would need a wire mesh that is 60 micrometers thick, whereas skin would need 45 micrometers of thickness. The method has proven its effectiveness after conducting tests on laboratory animals. It is currently being adopted by Tomsk surgeons.”

It was already used for treating a person with an extensive facial tissue defect. During treatment, doctors from the Tomsk National Research Medical Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences used a metallic fabric construction made at TSU. It helped preserve the facial tissues’ flexibility and restore the person’s quality of life. This was the first time a surgery like that was carried out in Russia.

The next step is accrediting the technique for it to be used nationwide. That way it can be used for systematizing medical materials and constructions produced not only at TSU, but in other Russia-based materials science facilities as well. Subsequently, surgeons and implant manufacturers will use the accumulated information. Knowing the specific properties will reduce implant installation risks and speed up the recovery process.

For reference:

TSU Laboratory of Superelastic Biointerfaces was established under a megagrant of the Government of the Russian Federation. Headed by Alexey Volynsky a professional in biotechnology with background in the University of South Florida, USA, the laboratory’s scope of work includes fundamental and applied research, development of cutting-edge biocompatible materials for treating soft and hard tissues damaged as a result of a physical trauma, acquired disease, or congenital pathology.