Through research by Andy Tennyson, an assistant professor of inorganic chemistry, and his group at Clemson University, medical patients could be less likely to reject artificial hips, knees and other medical implants.
Tennyson received research funding through the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program. The $500,000 NSF Career award will cover five years of research into modifying the artificial materials that go into the body as implants.
Rather than invent a new material, Tennyson wants to modify the materials that are commonly used for implants such as stainless steel, titanium, polyethylene and polypropylene.
“There is already a medical device infrastructure that has been built up around making devices around those materials,” Tennyson said. “So we don’t want to say, ‘throw that out, we’ve got to start from scratch.’ We want to come up with a way to take what is already made and do some minor functionalization on the surface of it, so that a new infrastructure doesn’t have to be designed from the ground up.”
Tennyson’s long-term goal is to develop implants that resist failure by preventing chemical degradation. He hopes to have the technology ready for animal testing in five years.