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  • Writer's pictureSooraj S Nair

BioMaterials: A Biotic-Abiotic Synergy

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

Ever wondered if you had the same power as what Joel Kinnaman had in the movie RoboCop? You would think those are movies and they don't exist in reality. What if I told you it is something that exists and you could have something of similar sorts in the future? Did I pique your interest? These things are called Biomaterials and let's get to know them better!

Table of Content:


Biomaterial by definition is “a non-drug substance suitable for inclusion in systems which augment or replace the function of body tissues or organs”. But basically, a biomaterial is a substance that has been engineered to interact with biological systems for a medical purpose, either to treat, repair, or replace a tissue function of the body or as a diagnostic element.

These components works hand in hand with the body and its systems to make sure that everything runs smoothly and hence the term synergy. These abiotic components are generally made of substances that can be easily accepted by the living body and can work in unison. The study of biomaterials is called biomaterials science or biomaterials engineering. It has experienced steady and strong growth over its history, with many companies investing large amounts of money into the development of new products.

Some History

As a science, biomaterials are about fifty years old. If we look at the history of some of the oldest biomaterial applications were as far back as ancient Phoenicia where loose teeth were bound together with gold wires for tying artificial ones to neighboring teeth, which shows dental practices were more painful back then :P. In the early 1900s bone plates were used to stabilize bone fractures and to speed up their healing and recovery. While by the time of the 1950s to ’60s, blood vessel replacements were in clinical trials, and artificial heart valves and hip joints were in development, which still makes my mind blow up. I know right!

What Counts as a Biomaterial?

According to NIBIB, metals, ceramics, plastic, glass, and even living cells and tissue all can be used in creating a biomaterial. They can be re-engineered into molded or machined parts, coatings, fibers, films, foams, and fabrics for use in biomedical products and devices. These may include heart valves, hip joint replacements, dental implants, or contact lenses. They often are biodegradable, and some are bio-absorbable, meaning they are eliminated gradually from the body after fulfilling a function.

Types of Biomaterials:

In general, there are three terms in which a biomaterial may be described or classified into representing the tissues responses. These are bio-inert, bio-resorbable, and bio-active. Let's look into what each of them means:

Bio-inert Biomaterials

The term bio-inert refers to any material that once placed in the human body has minimal interaction with its surrounding tissue, examples of these are stainless steel, titanium, alumina, etc. These are modern teenage kids, who just stay in their rooms, to the body :P

Bio-active Biomaterials

Bio-active refers to a material, upon being placed within the human body interacts with the surrounding bone and in some cases, even soft tissue. These could be considered pseudo-living components. These are those high-energy extroverts at the party XD

Bio-resorbable Biomaterials

Bio-resorbable refers to a material that upon placement within the human body starts to dissolve or reabsorbed and is slowly replaced by advancing tissue such as bone. Those gullible kids at the family meetings XD

Some Applications

  1. Joint replacements

  2. Bone plates

  3. Intraocular lenses (IOLs) for eye surgery

  4. Bone cement

  5. Artificial ligaments and tendons

  6. Dental implants for tooth fixation

  7. Blood vessel prostheses

  8. Heart valves

  9. Skin repair devices (artificial tissue)

  10. Cochlear replacements

  11. Contact lenses

  12. Breast implants

  13. Drug delivery mechanisms

  14. Sustainable materials

  15. Vascular grafts

  16. Stents

  17. Nerve conduits

  18. Surgical sutures, clips, and staples for wound closure

  19. Pins and screws for fracture stabilization

  20. Surgical mesh


Biomaterials, Summary, Scope, Types
  • A biomaterial is any substance (other than drugs), natural or synthetic, that treats, augments, or replaces any tissue, organ, and body function.

  • The study of biomaterials is called biomaterials science or biomaterials engineering.

  • As a science, biomaterials are about fifty years old.

  • These are classified into bio-inert, bio-resorbable, and bio-active tissue all can be used in creating a biomaterial

  • These are classified into bio-inert, bio-resorbable, and bio-active.

That's all from my side about BioMaterials. Next time let us discuss some specific Biomaterials and how they are changing the industry. Until then Stay Safe, Stay Healthy Ciao!

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