Biomaterials

Now that we have covered the chemical, biological, and physical properties of cells and different tissues in my Intro to Bioengineering class we are really starting to get into the engineering. We started by talking about biomaterials which are basically anything nonliving that is put into something living. Mostly when we think about biomaterials we think about implanted devices which can range from artificial joints to artificial organs as well as things like stitches and sensors. For the most part these are devices that are produced in a lab to replace or support an organ or tissue that is not working properly. When designing a biomaterial there are a lot of considerations that you have to make so that the body will not reject it. Biomaterials must not damage the body, but should also be able to withstand damage done by the body. The materials used should not create negative reactions in the body, they must be nontoxic, non-carcinogenic, non-allergenic. But they also have to be able to last in normal body conditions, not degrading in the presence of salt and water, withstanding shearing and other forces. This makes biomaterials very difficult to design, but also very important, especially with an aging population that is living longer than some of their body parts can last. At this point biomaterials are generally not as good as the real thing, but the supply of organ available for transplant is limited. Someday we could develop materials that work better in the body, allowing for more compatible and effective medical devices.

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