Bioresorbable Materials Take Center Stage at MD&M West

Posted in Medical Plastics by Camilla Andersson on February 14, 2013

At this year's MD&M West, bioresorbable and bioabsorbable materials were the focus of conference sessions and company product announcements alike. At the MedTech Innovate Seminar session on bioresorbable materials, Dennis D. Jamiolkowski, distinguished research fellow, at Ethicon Inc., Johnson & Johnson Co.; Derek Mortisen, senior scientist at Abbott Laboratories; and Mart Eenink, director, global sales biomaterials at Purac highlighted the chemical and mechanical issues involved with developing bioresorbable materials, while addressing some of the challenges that researchers have faced in bringing these materials up to speed.

For example, in his presentation titled "An Introduction into the Interconnection of Chemistry, Processing, Polymer Morphology, and Design in the World of Absorbable Polyesters," Jamiolkowski noted that absorbable materials do not dissolve in the body; they degrade. In addition, he explained, a material's mechanical and functional properties may degrade before the material itself is finally absorbed in the body, emphasizing that manufacturers must perform a fine balancing act to achieve optimized materials suitable for different medical device applications and age cohorts.

Addressing "The Latest Developments in Resorbable Polymers for Medical Devices," Eenink stated that while materials themselves are crucial, it takes more than a material to make a medical device. Design and processing are equally important for ensuring that a device will perform as intended.

On the show floor, Lubrizol (Cleveland) announced that it was joining the race to develop bioabsorbable polymers, not for cardio applications but rather for orthopedic, wound-care, and hernia-mesh components. The company's new polymer technology enables it to design customizable physical properties, including strength, rigidity, and abrasion resistance. The material can also be designed to allow tailored degradation rates to accommodate diverse healing requirements. Tunable materials, these bioabsorbable polymers overcome the strength and longevity challenges that have prevented the widespread use of existing bioabsorbable materials in some applications, according to Uwe Winzen, the company's global marketing manager, and Ralf Hüther, the global medical device manager.