Regeneration, Implants, Medical Technology

(Regeneration, Implantate und Medizintechnik)

Coordinators:

 

 

Summary:

What with improved patient care, longer life expectancy and quality of life, and easing the burden on health insurance plans, the expectations of modern medical technology could hardly be greater. Taking up the challenges ahead, the Regeneration, Implants, Medical Technology research center is engaged, in collaboration with competent partners from healthcare practice, in a quest for effective solutions.

It is still little more than a vision that patients will one day be supplied on a routine basis with organs or tissue from the bioreactor in a way that is just as much a matter of course as how pieces of blood vessel are transplanted in cardiac bypass operations today. The Regeneration, Implants, Medical Technology research center at the TUHH is working to ensure that this vision can really come true. Its relevance is clear against the backdrop of demographic trends forecast for Germany. According to the Federal Statistics Office there will be fewer and fewer children and a significantly larger number of older people. Due to this aging of society, the number of illnesses in Germany will increase sharply in the decades to come.

To find sustainable solutions to the complex scientific – and economically relevant – issues that this trend entails, the Regeneration, Implants, Medical Technology research center seeks active cooperation with different institutions of high repute in Hamburg and further afield, such as Eppendorf University Hospital, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research, and various medical technology enterprises. The TUHH institutes participating in the research center can contribute their outstanding engineering competence in medical technology – a competence that is acknowledged well beyond the city’s borders.

To do justice to the especially marked interdisciplinary character of research projects in medical technology, scientists from wide-ranging disciplines are joining forces at the Regeneration, Implants, Medical Technology research center. They range from laser and plant systems technology, thermo-fluid dynamics, mechanics and ocean engineering via thermal process engineering, nanoelectronics, metrology, and numeric simulation to bioprocess and biosystems technology, biomechanics, and plastics and composites.

In 2008/09, research scientists in these different fields, all of which are important for medical technology, raised over four million euros in funding. The research center’s aim is to intensify existing successful medical technology research under a shared roof or to enlarge the research groups. The work group that emerged from the TUHH’s tissue engineering quality offensive is one of the focal points of regeneration research. Its research scientists are, for example, looking into whether biohybrid implants, which connect biological and technical components such as cells and electrodes, can be bred in special bioreactors.

The work group can build on knowledge gained at the TUHH in an already completed project to develop a biohybrid joint surface replacement. It seeks collaboration with highly specialized tissue engineering firms. Alongside tissue engineering, other collaborative research centers will take shape as a result of interaction, cooperation and knowledge transfer between individual institutes. A group of research scientists has been established to look into Bioreaction Technology for Tissue Cultivation, for example, and another is to deal with Implants and Medical Technology.

Current research deals inter alia with implant technologies to warn against the occurrence of aneurysms in the aorta or monitor body functions such as heartbeat or brain waves, with the influence of electric fields on cell growth, and with an artificial hand. The last-named project is undertaken in close cooperation with the Federal Research Ministry. Subjects dealt with are continuously extended, updated, and evaluated, thereby laying the groundwork for a dynamic research landscape and enabling long-term bundling of the participating institutes’ different research interests. The Regeneration, Implants, Medical Technology research center is very much open to new members because new ideas boost quality.