The functionality and safety of the medical implants depends on the properties of the used materials and their ability to interact with the surrounding tissues. A very promising approach to control the implant-tissue interactions is the use of thin coating layers. These coatings are often prepared from polymeric materials even though inorganic modifications of the surfaces of the implants are well known. The development of many new polymer materials in the last decade allows for preparation of many coatings with very well and precise defined properties, e.g. density, roughness, thickness, tribology. These coatings can be used as drug delivery systems and their stability (degradation) can be accurately controlled.
The group of Biomaterials develops coatings for medical implants based on polyelectrolytes, hydrogels or poly lactates. The coatings are with a thickness which varies from few nano meters up to few micro meters. These coatings are used as carriers for controlled time specific drug release. An example is immobilization of siRNA polyplexes in coatings for cardio stents. The coating show good biological compatibility and well defined depot function. The coatings prepared in our laboratories could also be used as drug (siRNA) carriers for neuro implants, can tune the interactions between the implants and tissues, can control the biological encapsulation of implants and sensors, could have antibacterial activity, etc. Development of new polymer molecules or modifications of existing polymers allows for very specific choice of the required coatings.
In biomedicine, foams and hydrogels are often used as carrier materials for cells in cell-based therapies. The expertise of the group of Biomaterials enables the rational design of materials for foam production. Areas of application in the medical sector include serious lung diseases and new lipid- and nanoparticle-based treatments for eye diseases (e.g. Dry Eye Syndrome DES).
Other activities are aimed at using hydrogels on the surfaces of implants as active ingredient depots, e.g. to apply therapeutic siRNA to stents to treat blood vessels and to sensor implants to inhibit harmful encapsulation reactions.