University Of Kentucky Biomedical Engineer Awarded Grant To Improve Joint Replacements And Dental Implants

September 22, 1998

Dental implants that replace lost teeth brighten the smiles of thousands of Americans. Joint replacements help thousands more people regain mobility. In 10 percent of cases, however, the replacement fails, often because of loosening. David Puleo, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, conducts research into improving the security of implants. Puleo is one of 27 national recipients of a biomedical engineering research grant from the Whitaker Foundation, a private, nonprofit foundation that focuses on how engineering can improve medical care.

Puleo will use his $209,986 award for his study, "Preparation and Analysis of Biochemically Modified Surfaces to Control Bone-Cell Orthopedic-Biomaterial Interactions."

"The goal of the project is to use a biologically-driven and proactive approach to engineer the surfaces of orthopedic and dental implants for the purpose of controlling tissue-implant interactions," Puleo said. "More specifically, we hope to introduce methods for modulated delivery of bone growth factors to the tissue-implant interface."

Growth factors, which are proteins that stimulate cell division or differentiation, may help accelerate or enhance formation of bone around implants. Puleo hopes their use will cause better contact between existing bone and the implant.

"The project will ultimately benefit Americans who will receive joint or dental implants in the future by improving implant success rates, hastening postoperative recovery and improving quality of life," Puleo said.

University of Kentucky Medical Center

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