Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 July 2014
The development of biomaterials
A biomaterial has been defined by Hench and Erthridge as a synthetic material used to replace a part or a function of the body in a safe, reliable, economic and physiologically acceptable manner. The Celmson University Advisory Board for Biomaterials has formally defined a biomaterial to be “a systemically and pharmacologically inert substance designed for implantation within or in a medical device, intended to interact with biological systems.” Biomaterials have been widely used in many areas, including replacement of damaged parts (artificial hip), assisting in healing (sutures), improving biological functions (pacemaker, contact lens), correcting abnormalities (spinal rods), cosmetics (augmentation mammoplasty), aiding diagnoses (probes) and aiding treatment (catheters). A material is considered biocompatible if it causes no irritation, allergic or toxic responses when used in a biological system . Table 7.1 provides some examples of biomaterials used in the body.
Biotechnology and nanotechnology are the two of twenty-first century's most promising technologies. Convergence of these two technologies is expected to create innovations and play a vital role in various biomedical applications. The symposium in 2000 entitled “Nanoscience and Technology: Shaping Biomedical Research” held by the National Institutes of Health Bioengineering Consortium (BECON) addressed eight areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology, which include synthesis and use of nanostructures, applications of nanotechnology to therapy, biomimetic and biologic nanostructures, electronic–biology interface, devices for early detection of disease, tools for the study of single molecules, nanotechnology and tissue engineering .