Bone and joint diseases cause more functional limitations in the adult population than any other group of disorders, and represent the most common medical cause for long-term sickness absence in developed countries. As life expectancy increases and degenerative bone diseases become more urgent, a rapidly expanding number of patients will need effective bone regeneration therapies. Regeneration of large bone defects is currently a significant challenge for dental, maxillofacial, trauma and orthopedic surgeons. This problem is further enhanced because the majority of these patients suffer from additional medical problems, (such as osteoporosis, diabetes or cancer) which strongly reduce the regenerative capacity of native bone tissue. Therefore, a next generation of off-the-shelf available bone substitute materials with an equal performance to autologous bone needs to be developed. 

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Injectable bone filler

Various projects within RRM are dedicated to development of such novel materials for bone regeneration which can be processed into various application forms ranging from two-dimensional coatings, surface modifications and membranes to three-dimensional (nano)fibers, micro/nanoparticles, scaffolds, gels and cements. In addition, we investigate their  biological performance both in vitro and in vivo.

Calcium phosphate bioceramics are currently recognized as the most effective class of bone-substituting materials due to their chemical similarity to bone mineral. Although extensive knowledge is available on the relationship between physicochemical characteristics of CaP ceramics and their biological behavior, the favorable properties of calcium phosphate  ceramics on bone healing are still not explained unambiguously. To unravel this mechanism, we carry out fundamental research on the mechanism of action of calcium phosphate bioceramics.

In addition, a strong need exists for novel drug release technologies to facilitate local and controlled (co-) delivery of (multiple) biomolecules such as growth factors (to stimulate stem cell homing as well as osteo- and angiogenesis), chemotherapeutics as well as anabolic or anti-catabolic drugs (e.g. small molecules).  Finally, novel coatings and nano/microtextures on top of endosseous implants are being developed within RRM to improve the healing response to bone implants (both oral and orthopedic) in order to comply with the trend towards implant installation under increasingly challenging conditions characterized by e.g. lower bone mineral densities and corresponding reduced anchoring capacity of bone tissues.

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Bone formation (in pink) along an uncoated (top) en calcium phosphate coated titanium implant (bottom)

Prof. John Jansen, Department of Biomaterials
Prof. Gert Meijer, Department of Experimental Implantology