Researchers at the National University of Singapore and National University Hospital, also in Singapore have developed a biodegradable plastic for use in repairing holes in the skull. Such holes are often required as part of a surgical procedure.
The new biodegradable plastic material called Burr Plug is made of polycaprolactone. It offers a significantly cheaper alternative to titanium plates which are the currently preferred option.
The polycaprolactone plastic mesh acts as a scaffold for new bone formation. Unlike titanium which is permanently left in the patient and may be evident after implantation, the biodegradable plastic is gradually resorbed or integrated into the skull while bone grows leaving no noticeable trace of its presence.
The polycaprolactone plastic is also pliable enough that it can also be easily formed into custom shapes to suit individual patients.
The team of researchers took 6 years to take the idea from concept to production. They are also looking at using the material in the repair of spines, knees and eye sockets.
The implant material is currently made individually for each patient in a laboratory at Temasek Polytechnic. However the researchers want to raise capital to mass manufacture the material for a worldwide market. To this end, they have set up a company Osteopore International to market their material.