Interview with Amir Fahmi, Professor of Materials Science at the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Germany.
There is hope for anyone who breaks an arm or suffers from severe osteoporosis. Lab-created targeted bone regeneration therapy promises to help in the future. An EU-funded joint research project is currently studying new ways to promote faster bone healing. COMPAMED-tradefair.com sat down with Professor Amir Fahmi, who participates in the project in his capacity as a materials scientist to talk about the development.
Professor Amir Fahmi
Professor Fahmi, what is your team’s role and responsibility in the iP-OSTEO joint research project?
Prof. Amir Fahmi: We are tasked with developing a new material to improve the treatment of bone fractures and osteoporosis by reinforcing the defects with healthy bone material. The idea is to stimulate the bone cells and prompt them to grow again and promote bone healing.
How do you develop this type of material?
Fahmi: We have to find the right answers to a number of questions. The first step is to decide how we plan to implement the material in the bone. Next, we have to determine whether there are any interactions between the material and the biological system into which the material is introduced. The goal is to prevent the body from rejecting the material. That’s why the material has to be biocompatible and biodegradable. What’s more, it is essential that the body is able to break down the material once the bone has grown. We have to take all these criteria into careful consideration.
First, you have to find the right type of polymer. We have a lot of experience with this material and are also testing a configuration with inorganic biomaterials such as calcium phosphate or hydroxyapatite, which is combined with the biopolymer. The plan is to create a hybrid material we can turn into nanofibers via electrospinning. Using a special device, you can then draw the polymers from a tiny needle. Mixed with the inorganic particles, the polymers form nanofibers and are combined in scaffolds. This process allows you to embed various materials in the nanofibers to effect bacterial inhibition for example.
Osteoporosis is particularly common in post-menopausal women and in the elderly. But there are other risk factors that contribute to the body breaking down more bone than it builds. These include, for example, smoking, little exercise, diabetes type I or underweight.
Where you able to conduct initial testing yet?
Fahmi: We are not yet at this stage. Having said that, we will test the material in vitro. There will also be animal testing down the road, but this will be handled by another partner of the consortium.
What is the project duration?
Fahmi: The project will run for three years and will be completed in early 2023. The benefit is that we also have participating industry partners in addition to academics. Right now, we have two scientific assistants hailing from the industrial sector you join us in our laboratory. The EU funds the entire project. This also ensures that time to market won’t take long.
The project focuses on the development of novel cell-based scaffolds for bone and cartilage repair in patients with poor regenerative capacity. The project is conducted by 7 companies and 7 academic institutions across the European Union. For more information, please visit: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/824007
The interview was conducted by Simone Ernst and translated from german by Elena O'Meara. COMPAMED-tradefair.com