TU Delft, Shanghai Institute of Ceramics Collaborate on Development of Next-Generation Bone Fixation DevicesMay 16, 2012 – 10:24 am
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between TU Delft in the Netherlands and the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics (SIC), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), was recently renewed for five years. Scientists from both universities will collaboratively pursue research on the development of composite materials for biodegradable and bioactive orthopaedic devices, a process that began under the initial MoU signed in September 2008.
To learn more about the objectives of the renewed MoU, which was signed on 26 April 2012, Helen Zhang, Associate Editor of China Medical Device Manufacturer (CMDM), spoke with Dr. J. Zhou, Associate Professor, Department of Biomechanical Engineering and Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime & Materials Engineering at TU Delft.
CMDM: Can you tell me under what circumstances the collaboration was initiated, and why your university selected SIC as your partner in China?
Dr. J. Zhou: The cooperation in research on biomaterials was initiated in September 2008 during the China Medical Technology Tour, headed by Dr J.W.A. van Dijk, former Vice Governor of the Netherland’s South Holland province, and Prof. J.T. Fokkema, former Rector-Magnificus of TU Delft. The main reason for choosing SIC as our partner is quite simple: complementary expertise.
The Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research Center of CIS, led by Prof. Jiang Chang, is particularly strong in developing bioactive ceramics and ceramic-matrix biocomposites. In addition, it has expertise in understanding cell-biomaterials interactions (including the effect of biomaterials on cell adhesion, proliferation, differentiation and gene expression) and is capable of characterising the physical and chemical properties of biomaterials. Its research covers the fields of bioactive materials, tissue engineering scaffolds, nano-biomaterials for controlled drug release, biolabelling, diagnostics, inorganic bioactive coatings for medical implants, and fibre-optic materials for medical devices.
The Biomaterials Technology Group of TU Delft is particularly strong in developing biometals and metal-matrix biocomposites and adding multiple biomedical functionalities to the surfaces of these biomaterials. Its unique expertise lies in metallic and composite biomaterials processing and surface biofunctionalisation. It is equipped with a full range of facilities, including a bio-safe lab, for biomaterials processing, characterisation and surface biofunctionalisation. This research covers the whole chain of biomaterials research for advanced multifunctional combination devices and instruments.
CMDM: The updated MoU will contribute to a joint research project with ZonMw (The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) and CIS. Can you tell us more about this?
Dr J. Zhou: We strongly believe that the MoU contributed to the approval of a four-year joint research project titled, “Bioactive and biodegradable composites for new-generation bone fixation devices.”
Our joint proposal was submitted in April 2011 in response to a call for proposals under the China-Netherlands Joint Scientific Thematic Research Program 2011 (JSTP) with a thematic focus on “Medical Devices for an Ageing Society.” It was assessed by three international experts appointed by the JSTP assessment committee. (Sino-Dutch cooperation was one of the four criteria for the assessment.) It was then assessed in China.
The Chinese-Dutch Assessment Committee ranked our proposal as one of the six top proposals out of 29 applications and approved funding for our project in November 2011.
In its first term (2009-2011), the MoU provided a formal framework under which many joint research efforts were conducted and a joint research proposal was rewritten.
Satisfied with the outcome of the collaboration, both institutions agreed to a renewal of the MoU for five years (2012-2016). The execution of the approved joint research project will certainly be part of the new MoU.
CMDM: What are the goals for the project mentioned above? Specifically, how might this benefit the medical technology industry?
Dr. J. Zhou: The project intends to make the best use of the expertise of the individual institutions in biomaterials research. It aims to develop composite materials for new-generation bone fixation devices that are both biodegradable and bioactive. Their clinical applications will eliminate the medical problems of current bone fixation devices, which are left permanently in the body after the bones have healed. These problems include stress shielding, physical irritation and [the devices'] inability to adapt to changes in the human body, and, thus, the need for a second surgical procedure to remove them.
Bioactive, biodegradable bone-fixation devices that are being developed in this project will be welcome additions to existing orthopaedic devices and further drive market growth in Europe and China. The research will generate know how and intellectual property and provide the medical device industry with an opportunity to develop innovative products.