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Georgia Tech research indicates immune complications associated with combination medical devices

ATLANTA (February 20, 2005) Medical devices are traditionally thought of as fairly simple implants such as stents and hip replacements - pieces of plastic or metal that are placed in the body to handle a very specific function. But biomedical devices now on the drawing board are considerably more sophisticated and represent an unprecedented melding of man and machine.

Combination products, devices that include a combination of drug, biological and device components, are expected to be the next big thing in biomedical devices. An example of a combination product is a tissue-engineered device that combines living cells with a polymer scaffold. When implanted into a patient, the device can replace or restore damaged tissue or organ function. While the response of the body to each component is well known, considerably less is known about how their new union may affect the body's reaction to a combination device.

According to new research from the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, the body can have a different and potentially detrimental reaction when there's more than one component involved. Findings from the study headed by Dr. Julia Babensee, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, will be presented Feb. 20 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

When a biomedical implant is introduced into a patient's body, the body's response is a threat to the acceptance of the implant and could result in device failure. The body responds to biomaterials with an inflammatory reaction and to foreign biological components with an immune reaction. But the two reactions may affect one another when triggered simultaneously, as they would be in a combination device if the combination product contains any foreign biological material.

"If you're combining a polymer with a biological component, the body may respond diffe
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Contact: Megan McRainey
megan.mcrainey@icpa.gatech.edu
Georgia Institute of Technology
20-Feb-2005


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