Biomaterial implants are an indispensable tool for restoring function after trauma or natural decline. In an increasingly ageing population, implants are of great importance to promote active and healthy ageing. However, the surfaces of biomaterial implants in the human body are prone to infection, which impairs their effectiveness and causes major complications.

The MBM research programme studies all aspects of the translation of biomaterials to clinical use, with a focus on infection prevention and treatment.

The MBM research includes:

  • Fundamental research on bacterial infections and biofilm formation relating to biomaterials;
  • Model development to study complex interactions of mammalian cells and bacteria;
  • In-vivo experiments to prepare the translation of biomaterials and coatings to clinical use.
Relevance

Solving clinical issues with fundamental science

Numerous permanent biomaterial implants and temporary devices are available for the restoration or support of function, e.g. artificial hearts, prosthetic joints, dental implants, and surgical meshes. However, these biomaterials may attract bacteria causing infections, which may result in severe clinical issues that can even be fatal (sepsis). Current treatment based on antimicrobials is not sustainable, as antimicrobial resistance is developing fast, and there may not be a sufficient number of effective antimicrobials by the end of this century.

Our research programme brings together clinicians and fundamental scientists, who aim to solve these clinical issues through fundamental research. The MBM research team develops and applies advanced models to study the mechanisms underlying bacterial and mammalian cell adhesion to the biomaterial surfaces and their complex competing interactions. These insights help us to:

  • Understand the cause of biomaterial-associated infections;
  • Improve current biomaterial treatment and develop novel biomaterials;
  • Test and validate new or improved biomaterial treatments to facilitate translation to clinical use;
  • Improve the current and future functioning and quality of life of our patients.
  • The MBM researchers closely collaborate with:

    • NANOBIOMAT (another programme set up by the W.J. Kolff Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science) and the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, for biomaterials;
    • Clinicians at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) to support them in their most urgent needs.
  • These MBM research activities are aimed at:

    • Development of non-antibiotic biomaterials;
    • Fundamental research on bacterial adhesion and biofilm development.
  • These MBM research activities are aimed at:

    • Development of specialized preclinical models to mimic target tissue;
    • Preliminary biocompatibility testing to support in-vivo experiment proposals.
  • These MBM research activities are aimed at:

    • Proving safety and efficacy of biomaterials through testing in animal studies;
    • Enabling the translation from animal studies to clinical trials to create successful biomaterials by building a new UMCG facility.