Multifunctional and controllable implant systems
The aim of this focus area will be to achieve a controlled, local stimulation that is based on a characterisation of the local biological deficit in order to initiate regenerative cascades in critical patients, leading towards a ‘personalised medicine’ approach.
On the one hand, we are currently able to design scaffolds with adjusted mechanical and structural properties, which can combine several functionalities in one implant material. On the other hand, the understanding of in vivo mechano-sensation of implants and cell signalling mechanisms is limited so far. Technologies to modify function and efficiency of various factors are available, e.g. by using degradable polymer matrices with systematically varied properties or by employing coating systems to provide a time-dependent drug release. Furthermore, factors which lead to a delay in healing or seem to initiate compromised healing in critical patients have been identified. However, these factors have so far not been combined with local and specific drug release in order to foster the regeneration cascades in a personalised manner. Local inflammation and biological deficits in delayed or otherwise compromised healing conditions will be identified using novel imaging techniques (Haag’s lab) and characterised using experimental animal models that mimic clinically relevant situations of compromised healing (Duda’s, Wildemann's, Volk’s, Sawitzki’s, Radbruch’s labs). Controlled bio-functional release systems will be developed (Bier’s, Lendlein’s labs) and will take into consideration the biological needs of compromised patients using principles learned from endogenous healing. The timing and rate of supply will be controlled by local, non-invasive imaging and stimulation using ultrasound technology (Raum’s lab). A significant innovation will be to achieve a local control of healing cascades by combining the characterisation with the stimulation technologies. This will be complemented from a basic research perspective by the local characterisation of cell-matrix interactions.