It was in 2002. Ian Thompson, a specialist in facial bone reconstruction king's College London, called the desperate patient.
A few years ago, he had an accident, when someone's car lost control and drove onto the sidewalk, resulting in the current patient Thompson flew over the hood and smashed his face - at the same time break a fragile bone that holds human eyes in the eye socket.
"Without this thin - no more than 1 mm thick - bone your eyes goes deep into the skull like it wants to hide, explains Thompson. But as a result, the vision is getting worse - it lost focus and the ability to correctly recognize colors".
The patient, who was about 30, worked in the aviation industry, including helping to change the wiring in the aircraft, and after the injury he couldn't understand where a blue wire, and red.
Within three years, the surgeons tried to help him to restore the normal position of the eyeball - first, they used artificial implants to replace the broken bone, and then constructed a replacement out of his own rib of the victim.
But both attempts were unsuccessful, in each case after several months in the body developed the infection, accompanied by severe pain. The doctors have run out of ideas.
Thompson, understand the situation, proposed to build the world's first implant of glass, which would hold the patient's eye in the orbit to its normal position.
The idea of using this glass material is brittle, at first seems counterproductive. But it was unusual glass.
"If you put in the human body is a piece of ordinary window glass, it will quickly become overgrown with scar tissue and after some time will be eliminated", says Julian Jones, an expert on bioactive glass from Imperial College London.
"And when you put in the body bisteka, it begins to dissolve, releasing ions that "talk" with the immune system and tell the cell what to do. Thus, the body does not perceive biostable as something alien, and it fused with the bone and soft tissue, stimulating the formation of bone material."
In fact, biostable works even better than your own bone material of the patient
Ian Thompson, a specialist in bone reconstruction
Thompson was able to achieve the desired result fairly quickly. Almost immediately to his pacientu came back normal vision and the ability to recognize colors. And 15 years later it eye fine.
Thompson, meanwhile, continued to work with biosteam as implant and provided effective assistance to more than 100 patients injured in automobile and motorcycle accidents.
"In fact, biostable works even better than your own bone material of the patient, he says. - As we have discovered, this is due to the fact that it is, as it dissolves, gradually releases the sodium ions, destroying the bacteria. Thus - quite by accident - it turned out that biotekno has a mild antibiotic effect".
The coming revolution?
Biostable in 1969, invented by the American scientist Larry Hench. Once in the bus he chatted with the Colonel, recently returned from the Vietnam war. The Colonel said Hence that although modern medical technology helps to save lives on the battlefield, they can't save the limbs of wounded.
That conversation had such a strong impression on the scientist that he decided to quit working in the field of Intercontinental ballistic missiles and try to create biomaterials that would not be rejected by the human body.
His research Hench continued in London that Britain was first applied to some of the most revolutionary innovation with the new material - beastcom - in a variety of areas, from orthopedic surgery to dentistry.
For the past 10 years, surgeons used biostable in powder form (which looks like putty) to correct bone defects in cases of small cracks.
Since 2010, this is the "filler" added to bio-glass has become a major component in toothpaste Sensodyne Repair and Protect, which was the global application of bioactive material at all.
When a person brushes his teeth with this paste, biostable dissolves and emits ions of calcium phosphate, which are associated with minerals of the tooth tissue. Little by little they begin to stimulate the restoration of tooth tissue.
However, according to many scholars, the current application is added to bio-glass is just the tip of the iceberg. Currently, new products are developed for clinical use, which ultimately should produce a revolution in bone and joint surgery.
When we spoke with Julian Jones in his office at Imperial College, he showed me a small cube, made of "springy added to bio-glass".
With some small changes in the chemical formula of this biostable gave the ability to bounce. It is not brittle and is very flexible.
The implant is made of such a material can be inserted into the leg in place a turnaround, and it will withstand the weight of the patient, allowing him to walk without crutches and without the need for additional metal plates or other implants.
At the same time "springy biostable" will stimulate the restoration of bone tissue, gradually, naturally penetrating into the patient's body.
"When the task is the regeneration of large sections of bone, for example, in the case of a serious fracture, it is very important that your leg felt a load of weight," emphasizes Jones.
"It is also important that bioimplants in your foot could transmit a kind of signal of bone cells about the weight of your body. Our body creates bone material, based on their needs - cell understand mechanical features of the body."
"Thus, to recover a considerable portion of the bone, the cells need to send the right signals. The reason that astronauts in space lose bone mass is that without gravity the cells of the body do not receive the information they received, when the person is on Earth."
Further changes in the chemical composition added to bio-glass lead to new forms of it - softer to the touch like rubber. This bisteka, as scientists hope, will help in the most difficult section of orthopedic surgery - repair of the cartilage matrix.
Now surgeons are trying to restore damaged tissue in the hips of patients with arthritis or damaged knee joints with the help of a complicated procedure, called "microfracturing". This surgical method of stimulating the growth of tissue only gives temporary result, which is confirmed by many athletes.
Jones offers his solution to the problem - this form is added to bio-glass, the implant which can be printed on a 3D printer and then placed in any hole in the cartilage.
To the cells of the body did not reject the implant, the material should possess all the natural properties of the cartilage. To check Jones uses the knee joints of dead bodies donated for research.
"We simulated the mechanics of walking, bending - in short, everything that makes the man's knee, to ensure that biotekno behaves like a piece of gristle, he says. And if this will work, we will continue with tests on animals and then move on to clinical trials."
This bisteca may find application in cases when people suffer from pain related to herniated vertebral disks.
Now surgeons replace the damaged disc with a bone graft, which fuses with the spine. This relieves the pain, but greatly limits movement.
The implant of added to bio-glass you could just print on a 3D printer and insert to replace the damaged disk. "Until now, nobody was able to reproduce the mechanical properties of human cartilage using synthetic materials, says Jones. But we believe that biotekno it."
"We just need to prove that this is possible. If all goes well, we will pass all necessary tests for safety, in 10 years this material will be placed at the disposal of doctors."
Well, even if artificially created materials that can merge with the tissues of the human body look a bit weird - I guess this is one of the most likely elements of the future of medicine.
In the end, now millions of people brush their teeth with such material. And this is only the beginning.
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