Two Indian institutes are currently developing a new biomaterial, zinc doped hydroxyapatite, that utilizes zinc's stimulatory effect on bone formation, which they hope will prove to be useful in bone implants.
City-based Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute (CGCRI) and the School of Bio-Science and Engineering, Jadavpur University, are jointly developing the biomaterial.
"The new research is aimed at limiting the composition of hydroxyapatite by adding zinc and some other material such that the new biomaterial developed exactly matches our bone tissues," said V.K. Balla, head of Bio-ceramics & Coating Division CGCRI.
Hydroxyapatite is a calcium phosphate ceramic that is used on a large scale for the repair and reconstruction of bone tissue defects.
The development of the new biomaterial is at an advanced stage and clinical testing will done soon.
"We are synthesizing zinc doped hydroxyapatite powder using a simple, wet chemical method and it has been observed that the quality of the hydroxyapatite did not alter after the use of dopants (doping agents)," said Abhijit Chanda, joint director School of Bio-Science and Engineering.
"We are also developing a-Tricalcium phosphate and biphastic calcium phosphate doped with zinc for bone grafting. It has been observed that the bonding with bone was better for zinc doped bicalcium phosphate than the conventional ceramics," added Chanda.
Observing that there was huge demand for bioceramics implants across the country, Balla rued lack of government initiatives to enable the rural population to access them.
"Bioceramics have many advantages over conventional implants. Aas such there is a growing demand for them. Unfortunately, these new technologies are widely used in private hospitals," said Balla.
"While our aim is to make bioceramics affordable for healthcare, unless and until there are government initiatives to make them available to the rural population, our efforts won't fructify properly," added Balla.