MD&M East: Rethink development of biomaterials

It's time to completely re-think how we develop materials for use inside the human body, according to Michael Drues, a PhD in biomedical engineering who is an entrepreneur and consultant to industry and the Food and Drug Administration.

""I'm not satisfied with biocompatible materials; I want to see us develop bio-friendly materials," Drues said
in an interview. "The vast majority of materials we use to make medical devices out of today were never designed to go into the human body." These materials were designed for other applications, including textiles for clothing and were later adapted for use in implantable applications.

Students who want to develop biomaterials should study immunology, in Drues' opinion. "The way the body responds to a material such as medical plastics is very much the same way it responds to a virus or bacteria."

Study of immunology would allow development of materials that are not just compatible, but are "materials that the body really likes". Building blocks would shift from synthetic polymers like fluoroplastics and polyurethanes to natural polymers such as proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates....

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