Benjamin Geilich’s Research Cited in SFB’s Top 5 Biomaterials Trends in 2016

Technological advances in medicine are off the charts. Even President Barack Obama threw out a “moonshot” when he called for researchers to cure cancer in the near future. And when it comes to moonshots of this variety, it’s the stars who have to step up and answer the call.

Members of the US Society For Biomaterials are at the forefront of advances in biomaterials, biotechnology, nanotechnology and more. With that in mind, here are five of the biggest trends in the biomaterials world to watch for this year, as undertaken by Society members.

1. Human Organs Printed on Demand
Need a new kidney? Just have one printed and overnighted to you via FedEx. It’s not that simple, of course, but Dr. Anthony Atala at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine said companies may soon process cells, create constructs and tissue, and your surgeon could take a CT scan and a tissue sample and ship it to that company. In a week or two, a printed organ could be on your doorstep and ready for implementation. “Game-changing” might be the understatement of 2016.

2. Treating Antibiotic-Resistant Infections
The number of global infections caused by bacteria and viruses grew at an alarming level last year, affecting the health of millions of people (Ebola, E. coli, norovirus, etc.). With drug approaches clearly not working, researchers are turning to nanomedicine as a more effective way to prevent, diagnose, and treat infections. Professor Tom Webster, Society President, has helped develop polymer nanoparticles containing silver nanoparticles that can kill bacteria more effectively than antibiotics, with no adverse effects on healthy cells.

3. Spinal Stabilization & Biodegradable Polymers
The use of biodegradable polymers which stimulate osteoblast transportation and function could completely eliminate the long-term use of spine instrumentation for stabilization. Also, when it comes to the chronic nonunion of bone fractures, these polymers could enhance fracture healing and forego the use of bone grafts, internal or external instrumentation, infections, extended hospitalizations, and major morbidity and mortality. This research, conducted by Dr. Michael Yaszemski at the Mayo Clinic, could fundamentally change the way common debilitating and life-threatening orthopedic conditions are treated.

4. Advancements in Cardiovascular Health
Endovascular stents helped those suffering from blocked coronary arteries have a much-needed option other than toughing it out or having open-heart surgery. The metal-mesh tube could be threaded up an artery in an arm or leg in a matter of minutes, relieving the obstruction quickly and easily. Dr. Elazer Edelman, the Thomas D. And Virginia W. Cabot Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at MIT, is constantly improving on each generation of these stents, including versions that are coated to release drugs to prevent cells from building up around the stent and blocking it. This interdisciplinary work is helping to rapidly translate ideas from conceptual to clinical introduction, in order to better serve patients.

5. Better Vaccines
Preventing the outbreak and spread of disease has long been a global priority, but researchers like Dr. Steven Gordon, chair of the Department of Infection Disease at Cleveland Clinic, are upping their game for 2016. A new system of producing vaccines – specifically the VSV-EBOV vaccine for Ebola – is expected to go to human trials this year, with a potential to save an untold number of lives.

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