Antioxidant Nanobiomaterials for Bone Tissue Engineering

BioTech Seminar Series 2023-24 "Innovation in biomedical technologies: emerging strategies for human life"
24 November 2023
Start time 
10:30 am
Polo Ferrari 1 - Via Sommarive 5, Povo (Trento)
Target audience: 
University community
Contact details: 
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale
Prof. Venu G. Varanasi - Bone Muscle Research Center, Univeristy of Texas at Arlington

Treatment of hard tissue defects has been a tremendous challenge due to the difficulties in creating the conditions needed for rapid regeneration and lessening the burden to the patient. Autologous healing is desired, yet these injuries can be so severe that such healing is difficult and often results in impaired or delayed healing resulting in loss of function. In particular, bone fractures and defects are severely problematic due to the resultant loss in hard tissue. Stem cells, growth factors, and gene therapies have also been attempted, but they often lead to increased chance of rejection and delayed treatment due to the need to collect sufficient resources to treat such patients. Thus, there is a vital need to develop modern technologies and materials to deal with such issues. In our approach, we use semiconductor methods and materials to augment current fixative hardware to promote a rapid healing response in bone. Semiconductor materials, composed of the Si-O-N-P elemental system,  have intrinsic properties that control the release of electrons in microelectronics to induce better control in microchip processing. In turn, this control in surface electron availability appears to also induce various antioxidant properties when in contact with nearby bone tissue. We apply this material as a coating onto Ti fixative devices using a method called plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition. (PECVD). This is a method that reproducibly applies the SiONx coating uniformly with sub- 1 nm tolerance in atomic and covalent bond distribution. This material property translates into a reproducible bone healing response that is accelerated as compared to standard uncoated fixation hardware. In this talk, we will go over the very fascinating properties of these materials and the methods used to produce these new devices in the form of nano-scale coatings and nanoparticle systems to augment hard and soft tissue biomaterial regenerative properties. Further, this talk explores the nature of the healing response as it is tied to the basic elements that make up the composition of this novel biomaterial system.

About Professor Venu Varanasi

Dr. Varanasi received his doctorate from the University Of Florida Department Of Chemical Engineering in 2004 and in partnership with the Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He used metal-organic chemical vapor deposition to create yttria-stabilized zirconia nanoparticles and thin films. These materials were created to develop new solid oxide electrolytes for fuel cell technology used in green energy power supply for aerospace vehicles and land-based power generation for the purpose of enhancing the United States energy production needs in the early 2000s. He then launched his career in biomaterials and bioengineering as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California at San Francisco and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. There, he started his work on developing biogenic materials for use in bone healing. Dr. Varanasi has continued this work as a faculty member at the UT Arlington Bone Muscle Research Center within the brand new Science and Engineering Innovation Research Building. His focus is on the development of de novo nanocomposite scaffolds and nano-scale implant coatings to improve musculoskeletal tissue regeneration in large volumetric defects. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, patents, and funded on various projects from the Department of Energy, Canadian Nuclear Energy Agency, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Osteo Science Foundation, and industry. Dr. Varanasi has collaborated with various researchers including clinicians, scientists, and engineers to further expand biomaterials research for treatment of musculoskeletal injuries.