Researchers deliver biocompatible nickel-titanium alloy for alternative dental implants

July 10, 2019

Two researchers based at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam, Malaysia, have reportedly developed an improved alternative for dental implants using biocompatible nickel-titanium (NiTi) alloy. As reported in New Straits Times, the researchers believe that the alternative dental implants are cheaper, more effective and easier to install.

The NiTi alloy was developed by Dr Muhammad Hussain Ismail, Associate Professor, Dr Rohana Ahmad, Associate Professor, and local medical device company, Nitium Technology Sdn Bhd. According to the researchers, the NiTi elements have similar properties to those found in human bone.

Dr Ahmad told New Straits Times that her team hoped to use the new implant material to produce shorter implants to be used in areas of the jaw where there is bone deficiency and added, “This especially applies to the back of the upper jaw. The upper jaw usually has lower bone quality and is associated with lower implant success rate. Hence, we hope our implants will be the solution to this problem.”

The idea for the implant material reportedly originated from the research of Dr Muhammad Hussain Ismail, Deputy Dean of the UiTM Mechanical Engineering Faculty, who formed a partnership with Muhammad Asif Ahmad Khushaini, the founder and chief executive officer of Nitium Technology, to commercialise the alloy. Nitium Technology then turned to Dr Ahmad for her expertise in this field.

To develop the material, the team first conducted a biocompatibility study to identify any adverse effects or biological risks to organic tissues posed by the new material. This study was conducted at UiTM, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Sirim QAS International and a clinical research organisation in India.

Dr Hussain manufactured his first prototypes using Powder Metallurgy and told New Straits Times, “The Powder Metallurgy method used to make our implant has reduced the production cost by 60%. One of the most important aspects in Powder Metallurgy is particle size. When we first tried to replicate the formulation, things turned out not as we expected. We mixed the mould in UiTM.”

More than one hundred prototypes were then metal injection moulded in Sirim Penang, Malaysia, and underwent pre-clinical studies. After making some modifications to the powder size and binder characteristics to improve flow and pore distribution, a second prototype has now been tested in an animal study.

The team are still analysing the results of this study, the paper reported, but expect a positive outcome from the data analysed so far. Once completed, the new dental implant is expected to be launched in 2020.

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