New materials and technologies for medicine
Our health care system is currently facing various challenges. The number of people of highly advanced age, who require more intensive medical care, is increasing. Cardio-vascular diseases are more frequent, the reasons often based on a lack of physical activity and an unhealthy, high-fat diet. At the same time, doctors are recording more and more cartilage and bone damage, some of which is caused by accidents, or excessive or incorrectly practised sport.
To meet these challenges, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht is working on a new generation of biomaterials – implants that actively support the reconstruction of tissues, release medication in a controlled manner, and eventually dissolve in the body once their work is done.
Materials used in the body to support the bodyâ€™s own regeneration or to take over important functions are called biomaterials. Prominent examples are heart valves or support devices for blood vessels: so-called stents. But not all of these implants have to remain in the body permanently. In some cases, screws, pins or plates, used to fix a bone after fracture, have to be surgically removed. The situation is similar in the case of bio-material systems for the release of bioactive substances, such as hormones. Once the site has healed or the active substance has been fully released, the implants are often obsolete and may possibly cause complications.