Nanotechnology may allow hip implants to sense growth of
Growing multiwalled carbon nanotubes on a titanium
surface enhances the electrochemical behavior of the
surface in a way that might lead to better implants
for hip replacements. The nanotech-prepared titanium
surface serves as a sensor to detect bone formation.
As reported by James Tyrrell at nanotechweb.org
(requires free registration) "Nanotubes
on the look out for new bone".
Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) grown
in pores on a titanium (Ti) surface are ideal
for detecting bone growth, according to Thomas
Webster and his team at Brown University, US [Nanotechnology
abstract]. By adding the biosensing
structure to the surface of orthopedic implants,
the inventors hope to monitor the success of
procedures such as hip replacements in situ.
Poor adhesion to the surrounding bone is the
most common cause of hip replacement failure.
Currently, the diagnosis of new bone growth can
be problematic as today’s imaging techniques
each have their own limitations and difficulties
— something that Webster and his colleagues hope
"The idea is that our sensor will communicate
the status of the surrounding tissue via radio
frequencies to a handheld device," Webster told nanotechweb.org.
"In fact, we’ve taken things a step further and
coated our sensor with a drug-containing polymer
layer that can be degraded to release bone
building agents on demand."
…Next, the team plans to begin animal
studies. "It’s a big and important jump to
determine if the sensors will work in an
animal," said Webster. "We’ll be using rats and
analyzing whether new bone growth can be
measured and then controlled."