Bioglass implants

British surgeons found that an innovative material called bioglass is significantly stronger than human bone. At the same time, it is more flexible, springy and can resist infections.

What opportunities does this open up in medicine?

British surgeons found that an innovative material called bioglass is significantly stronger than human bone. At the same time, it is more flexible, springy and can resist infections. What opportunities does this open up in medicine?

It all started with a car accident. Back in 2002, Ian Thompson rang a call from a desperate patient in a specialist office in the field of reconstructive maxillofacial surgery at London's Royal College. Some time ago, this man was involved in a traffic accident. After the unknown driver lost control, drove into the footpath and knocked him down. As a result of this incident, a man who is now a patient of Dr. Thompson, flying over the hood, received facial injuries - he broke a very thin bone responsible for keeping the eyeball in place.

“If this extremely thin bone, which is only 1 millimeter thick, is damaged, the eyeball plunges into the skull, as if wanting to hide there,” explains Dr. Thompson. “As a result, the possibility of focusing the eye and correct color recognition is reduced - vision is significantly impaired.”

The patient at that time was less than 30 years old, his work was related to aviation - he was engaged in replacing the electrical wiring of aircraft, however, having received this injury, he lost the ability to distinguish blue wires from red ones, and as a result, work. Over the course of 3 years, surgeons tried to help restore the normal position of the eye - to begin with, they replaced the damaged bone with an artificial implant, then they tried to construct a replacement structure using their own rib of the patient. Unfortunately, each of these attempts failed - in both situations, after several months, he found infection, accompanied by severe pain. Doctors began to lose hope for a successful outcome.

After a detailed analysis of this case, Professor Thompson made a proposal for the construction of the first of its kind implant withusing glass, which was supposed to serve to hold the eyeball in the correct position inside the orbit. The idea of using bio-glass for this purpose, which is a fragile and brittle material, at first seemed completely unbelievable. However, bioglass is significantly different from ordinary.

“After being placed in a person’s body, ordinary glass used for glazing windows is overgrown with scar tissue and is forced out of the body after a short time,” says Julian Jones, a specialist in biologically active glass, practicing at Imperial College London.

“If biological glass with the ability to dissolve is placed in the human body, it releases ions that have the ability to “communicate” with immunity and “tell” tissues and cells what they should do. It is because of this that bioglass is not perceived as a foreign element. It can grow together with bone and muscle tissue, participating in the stimulation of bone marrow formation.”

Ian Thompson was soon able to achieve the desired results. Almost instantly, his patient was again able to normally see and distinguish colors. After fifteen years, the eyeball is still normal. Currently, Dr. Thompson continues to work on the use of biologically active glass for implantation. Among his merits are the recovery of over a hundred patients who suffered during car or motorcycle accidents.

“Biologically active glass has significantly better characteristics than the human’s own bone tissue,” he says. We discovered that this happens because sodium and boron ions are released during its dissolution, helping to destroy bacteria. Bioglasses have a moderate antimicrobial effect.”


The invention of bioglass occurred in 1969. It was discovered by a scientist from America Larry Hench. As a result, British doctors were the first to apply some of the most revolutionary innovations from the new material - bioglass - in various medical fields, from dental clinics to orthopedics in surgery.

Many people use bio-glass almost every day and do not know about it. It is included in toothpastes. Since 2010, the "putty" made of biologically active glass supplemented the composition of the Sensodyne Repair and Protect toothpaste. Until now, this is the most widespread method of using bioactive glass as such.

During toothbrushing with these pastes, the bio-glass dissolves with the release of calcium phosphate ions, which bind to various minerals that are contained in the tooth tissues. Thus, the dental tissue begins to slowly recover.

For more than ten years, bioglass has been used in surgery under the guise of a powder substance in order to eliminate bone defects in the presence of minor injuries.

Doctors suggest that the current possibilities of using this material are only an insignificant part of its potential.

The development of new products that will be possible to use in medicine for revolutionary achievements in the treatment of bone-joint pathologies continues.

Implants from it are now inserted into the bones of the legs at the sites of serious fractures. At the same time, it is able to hold the load on the weight of a person, giving him the opportunity to move around without using a crutch. There is no longer any need to insert metal support plates or other implants.

In addition, at the same time, the springy bioglass stimulates the restoration of bone structures, being measured and naturally absorbed by the human body.

"Spring" biologically active glass does not have common parameters with window.

“If we have a goal to regenerate significant areas of bone tissue, especially in case of serious fractures, it is necessary that the bones can support the weight of the body,” says Jones. 

“At the same time, you need the implant in your bone to be able to transmit certain signals to your bone cells about your weight.

Bone tissue is created in our body according to our own needs - cells need an “understanding” of the mechanical characteristics of the body.

That is why, to restore a significant area of ​​the bones, the cells must receive the correct data.

The introduction of subsequent changes in the chemical composition of bioactive glass leads to the emergence of a new form - it is softer, tactilely similar to rubber. Specialists hope that this biomaterial can help in one of the most difficult aspects of orthopedics - the regeneration of cartilage tissue.

Currently, surgeons are making attempts to restore damaged cartilage in the thigh of patients with arthritis or with injuries of the knee joint using a rather complicated procedure - “microfracturing”.

This method of surgical intervention, stimulating tissue growth, allows you to achieve only a temporary result. This has been confirmed by many professional athletes.

Jones proposed a solution to the situation - this kind of bioactive glass is needed, the implants from which it will be possible to print using 3D printers for subsequent placement in any holes in the cartilage.

To prevent implant rejection by body cells, it is necessary to obtain from the material the presence of all the natural properties of cartilage tissue. To verify compliance, Jones uses the knee joints of the dead, given to him for research.

The use of bioactive glass can help solve problems with the regeneration of injured knees.“We use imitation of the mechanics of walking, bending - all those movements that are performed by the knee of patients - to convince the proper behavior of the bio-glass.

It should work as if it is an integral part of the cartilage tissue, the scientist shares. - If the technique proves its effectiveness, we will conduct animal testing. Following this, we plan to switch to clinical trials. ”This biologically active glass can be used in those situations if patients experience pain associated with the presence of hernial protrusions between the spinal discs.

At the moment, the damaged discs are being replaced by surgeons with a bone graft fused to the vertebrae. In this case, the pain stops, but patients experience significant restrictions on their movements.

Biomaterial implants can be printed on 3D printers and inserted in place of damaged disks. “So far, no one has been able to reproduce all the mechanical properties of human cartilage tissue using synthetic material,” the scientist says. “However, it seems to us that bioactive glass can handle this.”

“We should show evidence of the possibility of this. In the event that we succeed in passing all the necessary safety tests, these biomaterials will be available to doctors in the next ten years.”

Despite the fact that at present, the creation of artificial materials with the ability to fuse with the tissue of our body seems fantastic, it is quite possible today and scientists from the US state of Missouri Department of Science and Technology in 2009 developed the MIRRAGEN product and introduced it to the market in April 2017 in San Diego, California, USA. In the near future, MIRRAGEN will become one of the main elements in medicine. MIRRAGEN is a tissue engineering nano-technology product made of soft, molded, biocompatible, resorbable (or absorbable) biologically active borate glass, which is a matrix consisting of fibers and balls. Today it is a highly effective drug for the treatment of difficult and long lasting wounds.Thus, what was still considered fiction yesterday really works and repairs damaged areas from bone tissue to the epidermis. The MIRRAGEN product was originally developed as a way to treat wounds in diabetics, but other properties of the drug were proved during testing:

  1. Hemostatic (hemostatic). It has strong hemostatic properties due to its microstructure and calcium release. Designed to stop bleeding by accelerating the process of natural blood clotting and simultaneously blocking the wound opening. Stopping heavy life-threatening bleeding in places where tourniquet application is not possible or irrational (neck, inguinal, axillary and gluteal regions). Does not require removal from the wound surface. It can be used at all stages of the wound healing process (from hemostasis to remodeling).
  2. Antibacterial, since the main active substance is Bor. It releases boric acid into the wound to fight against pathogenic microorganisms. It is effective against bacteria and fungi in vivo and in vitro.
  3. Synthetic material - excludes the possibility of transmission of pathogens.
  4. Does not cause allergies (has a non-protein structure and does not cause allergic reactions, such as chitosan or thrombin.)
  5. The drug stimulates the body's natural regenerative functions and helps regulate natural cellular activity.
  6. Supports neoangiogenesis by creating a fibrous network matrix.

MIRRAGEN is intended for the professional treatment of various acute and chronic wounds:

  • Diabetic foot;
  • Venous chronic vascular ulcers;
  • Partial and complete wounds;
  • Pressure sores;
  • Penetrating and dry wounds;
  • Surgical wounds: transplants, surgery after the Moss, post-laser surgery;
  • Military injuries and injuries;
  • Pediatrics;
  • Injuries (abrasions, lacerations, tears of the skin);
  • Burns;
  • Gynecology and obstetrics;
  • Cosmetology.
MIRRAGEN does not require special handling or storage - room temperature storage conditions are sufficient. So, welcome to the future, which has already become an integral part of the present.