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Designing better medical implants

May 18, 15
Designing better medical implants

Biomedical devices that can be implanted in the body for drug delivery, tissue engineering, or sensing can help improve treatment for many diseases. However, such devices are often susceptible to attack by the immune system, which can render them useless.

A team of MIT researchers has come up with a way to reduce that immune-system rejection. In a study appearing in the May 18 issue of Nature Materials, they found that the geometry of implantable devices has a significant impact on how well the body will tolerate them.

Although the researchers expected that smaller devices might be better able to evade the immune system, they discovered that larger spherical devices are actually better able to maintain their function and avoid scar-tissue buildup.

We were surprised by how much the size and shape of an implant can affect its triggering of an immune response. What it’s made of is still an important piece of the puzzle, but it turns out if you really want to have the least amount of scar tissue you need to pick the right size and shape,” says Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Associate Professor in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), and the paper’s senior author.

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