The current clinical demands, and future demands of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, challenge material science and biomedical engineering in new and interesting ways.
Research involving bio-inspired materials and biomimetic processes capable of reproducing and mimicking the functioning and structure of living tissue is of special interest
In the past decade, nanotechnology has experienced a boom due to its enormous potential and versatility. One of the advantages of these nanomaterials is based around the possible altering of its electrical, optical or magnetic properties by varying the size which allows us to design materials with very specific properties.
The possible applications to medicine are the manufacturing of nanoparticles to diagnose diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s; using nanosensors to detect substances of interest (glucose, cholesterol), drug nanotransporters which allow drugs to be administered in a specific place, etc.
The latest advances are directed towards the development of scaffolds and supports for cells and other biologically active substances (growth factors, hormones…), which assist in the regeneration and repair of living tissue. As an example we have the obtaining of porous ceramics from natural resources (wood, algae and plants) which preserve the microstructure of the material in question, allowing for the fabrication of high performance implants and prosthetic components.
Nowadays many medical problems are solved through the use of prosthesis and implants which are mainly based on titanium technology, but the future is in regenerative medicine.
In this context, biomaterials show themselves to be the best option to promote the restoration of functionality to a living tissue. Implanted into the organism, these advanced materials manage to interact with the living tissue and stimulate them so that they regenerate, bringing about a form of assisted self-repair.