“This is the dawn of a new age of medical technology - the Age of Biotechnology”

Applause followed these words as Dr. Brent Higgins addressed the students and faculty of Amrita School of Biotechnology on “Clinical Applications of 3D Printed Titanium Mesh”, an undertaking Dr. Higgins has been spearheading as the director of Oss|Ability, a medical device company that pioneers next generation Titanium biomaterials for neuro-orthopaedic and oncologic conditions. Dr. Higgins, who is an orthopaedic veterinary surgeon at Vetspecs based in New Zealand, faces the challenges of spinal conditions, fracture repair, joint disease, arthroscopy, and minimally invasive surgery for mobility compromised animals on a daily basis. His fervor towards discovering a solution led him towards the realm of biotechnology, which he proposed as the being face of the future during the first talk of the weekly Seminar Series at Amrita School of Biotechnology.

Titanium mesh is a porous material that can be developed into customized implants with the help of CAD guided 3D printing using Titanium dust. This dodecahedron mesh, consists of 600 μm pores, which when used as implants, attract the cells from our bodies to infiltrate and establish themselves within these pores and allow bone and tissue to grow into, rather than onto implants, a process referred to as osteointegration, so that these implants eventually become a part of the bone. These electron-beam-melted technologies thus allow implants to become living parts of the body rather than foreign-particle additions and the resulting material is ‘osteoconductant’. Dr. Higgins colorfully highlighted the work he has done on this material and its success in various cases, including that of the lovable canine, Holly, who can run and play again thanks to the Titanium scaffold that was introduced into her injured leg. 

Dr. Higgins’ passion and enthusiasm for his work was evident throughout his presentation. “In reality it is one medicine,” Dr. Higgins explained as he conveyed the prospects of this novel application in humans as well as animals, “and biotechnology is now only limited to our imagination.” He proposed that transcutaneous technology, bioelectrical technology, and molecular biology would be the next steps in the area of orthopedic biomaterials.

“It’s all about changing the world. Do not be blind to the possibilities.”

August 13, 2014
School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri

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