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Hydroxyapatite a possible titanium implant substitute

One of the patents registered by the ITESM (Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), Campus Puebla, is a titanium substitute that will be used in bone implants. A substance called hydroxyapatite, obtained from bones of mammals, “will be tested this year in a regional hospital in the State of Mexico and by 2012 it might start being sold, if results are positive”, this was announced by Said Robles Casolco, researcher in the Department of Mechanics and Electronics of this university, who in just two years has registered seven patents with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Protection (IMPI), all related to the creation of supermaterials.

In an interview with “The Economist”, he noted that the hydroxyapatite grafts will cost 40% less than those made of titanium, noting that the technology could have a worldwide impact and use.

The scholar said it is very difficult for any company or institution in the country that is interested in applying innovations created in universities and research centers. This is due to the lack of a public body linking businesses and inventions, so even though the patent for the hydroxyapatite was made in 2009, he has not been able to market it.

He acknowledged that there are efforts by some public and private institutions to improve technology transfer to the productive sector in Mexico, but they are isolated cases.

“Unfortunately, most of the inventions from academic centers linger on a desktop, despite the marketing potential they have,” he said.

Said Robles Casolco furthermore stated that for severe fractures hydroxyapatite coated zinc, aluminum and silver alloys can also be used, this would transform the local implant market making it local and there would no longer be any use for imported titanium implants.

He said the hydroxyapatite – which is a biomaterial – can fill the gaps in the human body, both in dental and orthopedic, cardiac, joint, ocular or visceral applications, plus it can be manufactured according to the desired geometry to replace a damaged human bone.

Finally, he mentioned that this biomaterial could be used to create a biocement used to fill cracks in bone fractures or to fuse separate implants.

Hydroxyapatite Characteristics

• Bionert
• Bioactive
• Bioconductor
• Non-toxic
• Has osseointegration ability
• Does not change the genetic structure of the human body