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Innovative Biodegradable Alloy Advances Bone Implants

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 16 Jul 2020
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Image: Dr. Alexander Komissarov testing the magnesium, gallium, and zinc alloy (Photo courtesy of NUST-MISiS)
Image: Dr. Alexander Komissarov testing the magnesium, gallium, and zinc alloy (Photo courtesy of NUST-MISiS)
A new bioresorbable alloy based on magnesium, gallium, and zinc can be used to make temporary implants for the treatment of fractures, osteoporosis, and myeloma.

Developed at the Russian National University of Science and Technology (NUST-MISiS; Moscow, Russia), Monash University (Melbourne, Australia), and other institutions, the new bioresorbable alloy takes advantage of the efficacy of gallium in inhibiting bone resorption, osteoporosis, Paget's disease, and other illnesses. The alloy is intended for use in the manufacture of temporary implants for the treatment of fractures, and the restoration of surgically removed bone due to pathologies.

A severe plastic deformation technique of equal channel angular pressing (ECAP) provides the alloy with favorable mechanical properties and a low rate of degradation and biocorrosion, in contrast to alloys that are based largely on magnesium. As result, it does not undergo a rapid decomposition process in the environment of the human body, and retains its supporting functions throughout the healing process. The study was published on May 12, 2020, in the Journal of Magnesium and Alloys.

“Gallium is known as an ‘inhibitor’ of bone resorption, it is effective in treating disorders associated with accelerated bone loss,” said Alexander Komissarov, PhD, head of the Hybrid Nanostructured Materials Laboratory at NUST MISIS. “Gallium is also involved in biochemical regeneration processes, increasing the thickness, strength, and mineral content of the bone. Finally, it has an antibacterial effect, which is especially important in implantology.”

Gallium is predominantly used in electronics. And although gallium it has no natural function in biology, gallium ions interact with processes in the body in a manner similar to iron (Fe). The body therefore handles Gallium as though it were Fe3+, and the ion is bound in areas of inflammation, such as infection, and in areas of rapid cell division. It is also used in nuclear medicine imaging radiopharmaceutical agents (Gallium scan), such as the radioactive isotope 67Ga.

Related Links:
Russian National University of Science and Technology
Monash University

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