The Mechanism of Bioactive Glass

Monday September 23, 2019

Bioactive glass describes a group of surface reactive glass-ceramic biomaterials.  These products are bioreactive and biocompatible, and are used in the repairing of bone in the human body which are broken or diseased.  The market is growing very rapidly, with new clinical applications being developed (Ceramic Industry).  

Bioglass works through surface reactions once inserted into the body, which promote the healing of tissues in the body, and eventually dissolve completely leaving only tissue where the graft once was (Science Direct).

Source:  Wikipedia

Wikipedia also details how the mechanism of bioglass works, taking information from Ceramics International and the Journal of the American Ceramic Society.  The first step is the exchange of alkali ions, like sodium and calcium, on the surface of the glass with the hydrogen ions of the surrounding bodily fluids.  This results in a reaction called hydrolysis, which breaks down the SiO2 compounds on the glass, increasing the pH of the surrounding bodily fluids.

An increased OH- concentration on the surface of the glass continues to break the bonds between silicon and oxygen, forming orthosilicic acid, or Si(OH)4, and silanols on the material surface.  The silanol groups re-polymerise to form a silica gel layer on the surface of the bioglass, which attracts calcium and phosphate.  The calcium and phosphate on the surface of the glass crystalise with the surrounding bodily fluids, creating a mixed carbonated hydroxyapatite (HCA), which is a key component of bone and tooth enamel.

The now prepped surface of the bioglass encourages growth factors to adsorb, or hold as a thin film, which activates macrophages, promoting wound healing.  Stem cells and osteoprogenitor cells, the stem cells of bone, are drawn to the bioglass surface, and cause the surface to become covered in osteogenic cell, which are the cells present in bone tissue.  Standard mineralisation as occurs in native bone occurs on the surface of the bioglass, creating new bone tissue which bonds and repairs the bone or tissue in question. As this reaction continues, the glass becomes completely converted to bone tissue, and native to the body.

The development of this technology has helped to heal bone and other tissue without the need for bone grafting, which eliminates the need for multiple surgeries and reduces complications such as infection, morbidity, and pain.  Additionally, tissue regeneration rates are quicker when using bioglass, which benefits the patients (Azom).  This development is vital to the advancement of medical care, and continued investment will benefit patients and medical professionals alike. 

High purity quartz is used as a raw material in bioglass, and the Quartz Corp, as a first class supplier of high purity quartz, has an interest in this market.  If you would like more information about how our products can be used in bioglass, please download our datasheets or contact us directly.

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