The scientific objective of the BioImplant ITN is to develop and implement improved bioabsorbable materials for vascular and orthopaedic implant applications. This next-generation of medical implants will be realised through technological innovation throughout the Supply Value Chain, including novel material development, advanced manufacturing technologies, robust characterisation and predictive capabilities and innovative application design. The specific research objectives of the BioImplant ITN are as follows:
- Enhance the mechanical properties of polymer-based bioabsorbables through novel processing technologies.
- Control degradation rates of magnesium-based bioabsorbable materials through innovative polymer and ceramic coating technologies.
- Develop novel metal- and ceramic-based polymer composite bioabsorbables that exhibit superior mechanical properties to traditional polymers using advanced manufacturing technologies.
- Predict degradation and long-term mechanical performance of implanted bioabsorbable devices using an integrated multiscale and multiphysics predictive modelling framework.
- Design, prototype and functionally test a series of small- and large-scale bioabsorbable implants for vascular and orthopaedic applications.
The research programme is divided into four work packages (WPs 1-4), each centred on a core element of the Supply Value Chain, as outlined in Figure 1.2. The research programme will be implemented by 12 ESRs that will undertake joint industry doctorates, where each individual project feeds into the overall scientific objectives. The overall programme vision is to deliver training throughout all areas of the medical device development Supply Value Chain. Each of the 12 ESR projects implementing the research programme contains significant scientific and technological originality including innovative material processing strategies, polymer fibre- and textile-based materials, novel hybrid and composite material development, new computational modelling developments and new surface treatment development to address specific gaps in current biomaterial capabilities
WP 1 – Materials Development
At the core of the research programme is materials development, which will employ cutting-edge processing techniques to (i) enhance the mechanical performance polymer-based bioabsorbables, (ii) control the degradation behaviour of metal-based bioabsorbables and (iii) optimise mechanical and degradation behaviour through the development of novel magnesium- and ceramic-based polymer composite bioabsorbables.
WP2 – Manufacturing
The primary objective of WP2 is to support the development of the material technologies from WP1 through targeted implementation and optimisation of advanced manufacturing techniques, which will facilitate their progression from a material production state to a component or end-application production state. This WP forms a crucial step in the development chain as these techniques will enable fabrication of complex prototype orthopaedic and vascular implant designs (WP4). Specifically, a key component of this WP will rely on additive manufacturing technologies to produce multi-level hierarchical materials/structures.
WP3 – Characterisation
The role of this WP is to evaluate the core materials technologies developed in WP1 through physical and biological testing and develop a predictive modelling framework to inform and support the design/development of implant prototypes in WP4. Physical/biological testing to characterise mechanical properties, degradation behaviour and biocompatibility characteristics will be carried out according to well-established methods for all newly developed materials and this will begin early in the innovation process to evaluate the core material technology being developed in WP1 and will continue throughout material and application development (WP 4).
WP 4 – Applications
This WP will apply the materials, processes and test data generated in WPs 1 – 3 to develop vascular and orthopaedic implants with improved mechanical performance and controllable degradation rates based on the technologies developed. Four vascular stents with enhanced functional performance, delivered through superior mechanical strength/stiffness and controllable degradation profiles will be developed for both coronary and peripheral applications. Five orthopaedic implants, specifically trauma plates and bone scaffolds for critical defects will be developed to enable high load-capacity fixation.