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J Mater Sci Mater Med. 1997 Mar;8(3):131-41.

The cell and molecular biological approach to biomaterial research: a perspective.

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Institute of Pathology, The Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany.


The past two decades have witnessed a revolution in our understanding of chemical processes in living organisms. This is mainly a result of the massive advances in the fields of cell and molecular biology. These techniques are highly relevant to the biomaterials sector, as they offer the scientist the possibility to better understand the mechanisms involved in the interactions between cells and a material surface-a prerequisite for the rational development of medical devices with optimal biocompatibility. The purpose of the present article is to explain the rationale of the cell and molecular biological approach to biomaterial research and to present typical examples from the authors' laboratory, as well as from the literature, to illustrate its application. Important aspects of interfacial biology, including the underlying biological mechanisms and methodology, are presented. Of the latter the combination of morphological techniques with methods of cell and molecular biology as well as molecular genetics (so-called "combinative techniques") are particularly useful. The applicability of this approach is illustrated from a study on the pathomechanisms of metal ion-induced inflammation. In addition, the approach is essential to the development of targeted intervention strategies, as for example in the luminal surface modification of vascular prostheses to permit endothelial cell seeding.


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