A biomaterial is a material that comes in contact with a biological environment of the human body. Biomaterials are engineered to accomplish certain biological function (i.e. regulation of heart beat), replace an organ (vascular grafts, limb or breast prostheses), promote the regeneration of certain organs (skin, bone, cartilage) or serve as a therapy (drug delivery). This field congregates areas of expertise such as biology, medicine, chemistry, pharmacy, materials science and engineering.
Biomaterials can be made out of synthetic materials, such as ceramics, polymers, metals, and natural materials, such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, or a combination of them. Some of these materials serve as scaffolds that can contain biological components such as cells or biomolecules, in order mimic better the natural organs and allow a better interaction with the human body as well as reducing the implant rejection. Biomaterials can be designed to replace entirely a lost organ or can aid the human body to regenerate it.
Here we describe a general classification of the areas of research that are being fully developed and some examples: – Drug Delivery: therapeutic delivery of nucleic acids, drugs or bioactive compounds – Tissue Engineering: would dressings, hydrogels and scaffolds used for vascular, skin, nerves and ophthalmic applications – Artificial organs: hand, knee, hip replacement, and heart valves.
At the University of Alberta, there are some research groups which focus on the biomaterials. We encourage you to find out more about this at the University’s website (click here).
Below we share some links that can help to expand your knowledge and explore the wide area of biomaterials as well as to find out about the latest news and discoveries in this area.
- Biomaterials Tutorial from the University of Washington:
- Materials Today is a website that highlights research works published in Elsevier journals:
- Signals Blog presents scientists perspectives of the world of regenerative medicine and stem cell research: