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Posted: December 22, 2007

Biocompatible Materials Forecasts to 2010/2015

(Nanowerk News) US demand for biocompatible materials will increase 6.6 percent annually to $3.7 billion in 2010. Gains will match the overall upward pace of end-use product shipments as stricter FDA pre-market approval and production standards mandate the upgrading of materials used in medical and dental implants and drug delivery systems. Due to quality, performance and versatility advantages, synthetic and natural polymers will continue to dominate the overall market for biocompatible materials. However, metals and ceramics will continue to build niche opportunities in specialty devices and equipment such as orthopedic and dental implants, pacemaker and defibrillator components, and stents.
Synthetic biocompatible polymers to pace demand
Growth in the value of synthetic biocompatible polymers consumed in the production of medical products will reflect advances in bioabsorbable and biocompatible materials, which will broaden applications in high value-added products. In addition, specialty medical grades of commodity and engineered resins such as acrylic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and polypropylene will retain widespread usage in a variety of implants. Silicones, for example, will continue to serve high value-added applications in intraocular and contact lenses, pacemaker leads, cochlear implants and breast implant outer shells. Silicone is also building a number of specialty medical applications, including drug delivery systems, elastic stomach bands for obesity treatment, cochlear implant casings and urological slings. In the biocompatible natural polymers segment, cellulose will remain the leading material used in controlled-release oral drug delivery systems based on overall cost effectiveness and improving performance properties. Advances in bioengineered formulations will promote the rapid growth of collagen in tissue and dental implants as well as craniomaxillofacial fixation devices. Among other natural biocompatible polymers, hyaluronic acid (HA) will provide the best sales opportunities.
A wide range of implantable medical and dental devices will continue to be composed partially or completely of specialty metals. Precious metals will sustain the largest value of demand based on high cost and widespread use in dental fillings. However, reflecting advantages of high strength, low modulus and body fluid resistance, titanium and titanium alloys will provide the best growth opportunities. For devices requiring greater flexibility, such as stents, stent grafts, mobile-bearing joint replacements and spinal fixation devices, nitinol, stainless steel and cobalt chromium will divide most demand.
Advances in nanotechnology will enhance the performance of biocompatible ceramics, extending their applications in orthopedic and dental implants. Within this group of biocompatible materials, new generations of alumina-zirconia nanocomposites are expected to provide the best growth prospects. Due to a high density structure, these nanocomposites have a great resistance to cracking. In orthopedic implants, the materials are expected to enable the development of hip replacements with a minimum product life of 30 years. This longevity will eliminate the need for revision procedures.
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