A New Method for Predicting How Prosthetic Implants Will Behave in the Human Body


The Context: Prosthetic implants are regularly used in dentistry and orthopedics, and there are an estimated 2 million Americans living with limb loss today. Most prosthetic implants are currently tested using animal models before they are given to patients, but these models are resource-intensive and do not fully mimic how an implant will respond in the human body.

The Study: A team led by NYSCF – Ralph Lauren Senior Research Investigator Giuseppe Maria de Peppo, PhD, in close collaboration with Håkan Engqvist, PhD, at Uppsala University in Sweden, has created a new method for testing prosthetic implants using human bone tissue grown from stem cells. The study appears in Scientific Reports. 

The Importance: The new method opens the door for more accurate testing of prosthetic implants and has the potential to advance development of improved orthopedic implants and biomaterials, with reduced need for animal testing.

Millions of Americans have received prosthetic implants, and as new types of implants are developed, researchers will need effective methods for predicting how they will act in the human body.

“Current methods for testing implants typically involve either cultures of cells that do not mimic the architecture and cell interactions of the human body, or animal models, which also do not fully recapitulate how a patient will respond to an implant,” noted Dr. de Peppo. “We wanted to create a system using human bone tissue grown from stem cells that could better model how an implant will behave in a patient in a more ethical and affordable fashion.”

Dr. de Peppo is an expert in generating bone tissue from stem cells for evaluating new orthopedic options, creating bone grafts for replacement therapies, and testing drugs. His team, which operates out of the William A. Marquard Family Foundation Tissue Engineering Suite at the NYSCF Research Institute, engineered their new system so that the implant was anchored to a scaffold, and bone-forming stem cells were seeded around it. After several weeks, the bone-forming stem cells matured and the system was able to recreate the 3D environment of human bone.

“This is, to our knowledge, the first attempt at using stem-cell-derived bone to test prosthetic implants,” said first author Martina SladkovaFaure, PhD, a Principal Scientist at the NYSCF Research Institute. “Our new system can be used to examine the molecular interactions between the implant and human bone, as well as to measure the strength of implant integration.”

The team tested their system using two common types of implants: stainless steel and titanium. Analysis of each confirmed that the implants behaved in the stem-cell-derived bone similarly to how they are known to behave in patients, with titanium implants exhibiting stronger integration.

The team is hopeful that their new platform will allow for better testing of new types of implants, including those that can be personalized.

“We are excited that the system is showing a promising ability to predict how an implant will behave in a patient, and it could even have implications for informing development of new implants and evaluating efficacy of drug-delivering implants,” said Dr. de Peppo. “As we enter a new age of regenerative medicine, having models like this in place will be critical.”

Journal Article:

A biomimetic engineered bone platform for advanced testing of prosthetic implants
Martina Sladkova‐Faure, Michael Pujari‐Palmer, Caroline Öhman‐Mägi, Alejandro López, Hanbin Wang, Håkan Engqvist & Giuseppe Maria de Peppo. Scientific Reports. 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-78416-w

Diseases & Conditions:

Bone & Tissue Engineering