Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience have devised a coating technique that could strengthen the connection between titanium joint-replacement implants and a patient’s own bone.
The stronger connection–created by manipulating signals the body’s cells use to encourage growth–could allow implants to last longer. The research team, led by professors Andres Garcia and David Collard, coated titanium implants with floral-bouquet-shaped clusters of an engineered protein that mimics fibronectin, the body’s own celladhesion material. They first covered clinical-grade titanium with a high density of polymer strands. Then they modified the polymer to create selfassembled clusters of the engineered fibronectin, which contained the arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) sequence that infegrins (receptors that attach to the fibronectin and direct and enhance bone formation around the implant) bind to.