Health and Environment – Implants, prostheses, bioresorbable materials

When parts of the human organism fail, they must so far as possible be replaced. Research in this field has made amazing advances: dental prostheses are custom manufactured using computer-controlled software; implants, such as corneas made of synthetic materials, can restore vision permanently; artificial limbs today are capable of an astonishing level of functionality; and bioresorbable materials are dissolved by the body on schedule once they reach the end of their useful life.

Gesundheit und Umwelt

Projects

Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project »Theranostic Implants«

Theranostische Implantate

The Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project »Theranostic Implants« aims to develop active implants that combine therapeutic and diagnostic functions in a single medical device. To this end, Fraunhofer researchers are developing the following three demonstrators: a smart hip-joint prostheses, a sensor implant for monitoring blood circulation and a myoelectric prosthetic hand controller.

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Ultrasound technology wirelessly powers active implants

Unlike drugs, active implants such as electroceuticals act locally, have fewer side effects and function directly through electrical signals, much like the body itself. Fraunhofer researchers developed a new technology platform that can power active implants wirelessly via ultrasound. The experts are targeting widespread diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and Parkinson’s.

VascuBone – a toolbox for customised vascularised bone implants

The EU project VascuBone was coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB and has reached the end of a 5-year funding period. In March 2015, the partners of this international research consortium met at the Würzburg Congress Centre to discuss the results of this successful project. The focus of the meeting was the newly developed “Vascu-Bone Toolbox” to apply advanced materials and tailor-made combinations to individualized bone defects.

Synthetic eye prosthesis

Picture: Dr. Joachim Storsberg
© Photo Fraunhofer / Dirk Mahler

Donor corneas are a rarity: In Germany alone, each year roughly 7,000 patients wait for that miniscule piece of tissue. An implant made of plastic may soon offer patients – especially those facing their last resort – with the chance to see again.

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Pressure switch inside the head

Picture: intracranial pressure sensor
© Photo Fraunhofer IBMT

View of the not yet completely enclosed intracranial pressure sensor.

An increase in cerebral pressure may cause dementia and could destroy the brain. Companies have been seeking to find monitoring sensors that can be implanted into the brain, and read from outside the body. A tiny sensor may provide the help needed.

Myoplant – implants for bionic hand prosthesis

The focus of the project “Myoplant” is developing a bionic (i.e. simulating the human model) hand prosthesis. The complexity of the the hand prosthesis movement increases with the demand on its operation and the information interface for the prosthesis regulation. Ideally prostheses should operate intuitively i.e. without major training for the wearer. The prosthesis in the project “Myoplant” will be based on a myogen-regulated intelligent implant i.e. via muscle signals. The Fraunhofer IBMT is developing biological-technological interfaces (including processes and technology) for manufacturing and evaluating microimplants. In addition, the communication with the implant and the telemetric energy supply are being developed.

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Fraunhofer Group for Life Sciences

The Fraunhofer institutes participating in the alliance bundle the biological, biomedical, pharmacological, toxicological and food technological competencies of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft.