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R De Santis, F Causa, F Sarracino, P A Netti, L Ambrosio
Ann Transplant 2004; 9(1A): 6-9
Objectives: The possibility of accurately reproducing the structure and the mechanical behaviour of natural connective tissues is particularly useful in designing prostheses or synthetic models for in vivo and in vitro applications. Polymer and particularly composite biomaterials can especially take advantage of new design philosophies, such as “learning from nature”: the natural tissues are indeed composites and their physical and mechanical properties are a reflection of their microstructure.
Materials and Methods: Polymeric and composite biomaterials are used to replace and restore the functionality of damaged tissues. The
mechanical compatibility of a synthetic device is related to the mechanical properties of the material, the implant, and possibly a suitable stress transfer material, interposed at the implant-tissue interface. The filament winding technology seems to be the appropriate method of preparing ligament, tendon and intervertebral disc prostheses with mechanical properties close to the natural systems. By using this technology it has also possible to prepare 3-D scaffold with an appropriate porosity.
Results and Conclusions: Composite materials are very convenient for medical applications, since it is possible to obtain tissue substitutes whose properties are tailored to the specific application, including scaffold for tissue engineering, thus leading to an optimisation of the material itself.