Bioactive Glass Nanofibers:next generation biomaterial

Bioactive glass is currently regarded as the most biocompatible material in the bone regeneration field because of its bioactivity, osteoconductivity (a scaffold’s ability to support cell attachment and subsequent bone matrix deposition and formation) and even osteoinductivity (a scaffold that encourages osteogenic precursor cells to differentiate into mature bone-forming cells). However, the formulation of bioactive glass has been limited to bulk, crushed powders and microscale fibers.

Materials for biomedical applications have been exploited to augment and regenerate human tissues that have been subjected to damage and diseases. Over the last decade the demands on synthetic biomaterials have increased significantly and considerable effort has been devoted to the area of biomaterials and tissue engineering.
Specifically for hard-tissue applications, such as the regeneration and repair of bones and teeth, several bioactive or bioinert materials have been used clinically. Silica-based bioglasses constitute the essential part of such bioactive materials, having already been utilized in numerous orthopedic and dental applications. Most in vivo studies on bioglasses have confirmed their excellent biocompatibility with hard and even soft tissues. This is attributed mainly to their ability to form a bioactive layer at the interface in contact with living tissues, namely the hydroxycarbonate apatite (HCA) layer, which is equivalent to the mineral phase of human hard tissues. Based on extensive research conducted in vitro and in vivo, bioactive glasses are considered as one of the most-promising biomaterials for the ‘next generation’. Applications of the bioactive glass nanofiber include cell matrices for bone regeneration and tissue engineering.The nanofibrous mesh can be used either directly for bone fillers or in composite form with biodegradable polymers such as collagen and polylactic acid.”

Researchers from the University of Vigo, Rutgers University in the United States and Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom have produced bioglass composition nanofibres, a bioactive glass that can be used to regenerate bony tissue for the very first time.It was developed using “laser spinning” technique.The technique involves the use of high energy laser that melts a small amount of precursor material. This creates a super-fine filament that is lengthened and cooled by a powerful gas current. The laser spinning makes the material flexible, continuous and gives it a nanometric structure, which helps in the proliferation and spread of bone cells. The laser technique is advantageous over others because of the simplicity of the system, that “can be used in environmental conditions”, as well as its high rate of production and its ability to easily control the composition of the material. The work has been published in the journal Advanced Functional Material.

The researchers are now working to produce other functional compositions perfected by biomedical techniques to regenerate bone, and which may have applications in other fields. The technique could be used to manufacture fire-retardant fabrics, CO2 capture systems, or to produce composite materials that require reinforcement with nanofibres.

A research group from Rutgers University in the United States and another from Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, also took part in this initiative.