Feature stories | Technology & innovation

Undergraduate in Siberia creates new biomaterial for implants with anti-inflammatory properties

5 Jun '15
An undergraduate at Tomsk Polytechnic University in Siberia last year received a personal stipend from Pfizer, a global pharmaceutical giant, and has since been developing what appears to be a far-reaching biomed project. Ksenia Stankevich has been working on a brand new biomaterial for titanium implants that is believed to possess anti-inflammatory properties. The human body won’t reject the material, the developer claims, citing testing results.

“Physicians have been facing a long-standing problem caused by the human body rejecting titanium implants in a postsurgical period. Applying polymer coatings to the surface of an implant has recently proved to be a viable solution to the problem; and using a coating made of polylactic acid seems to be the most potent of them all. However, since it is far from flawless, we have come up with a method of modifying the surface of polylactic acid, which enables us to develop multilayer structures containing proteins and pharmacologically active compounds,” the young Siberian researcher explained.

The Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) website quoted Ksenia Stankevich as saying that “the new materials are biologically compatible with the human body and have revealed a manifest anti-inflammatory effect.” They are said to have already been tested in individual donors in Germany, a process assisted by the chair of inborn immunity and immune tolerance of Heidelberg University.

“The materials we developed have been tested for the individual donors’ immune-mediated response, and we now know that in many instances they do show anti-inflammatory activity,” the TPU undergraduate said.

An international effort, with Pfizer weighing in

Ms. Stankevich has been working on new polylactic acid based hybrid biomaterials in a university research team led by three of the world’s most prominent experts in this field of science. The two of these work at TPU; Sergei Tverdokhlebov is an associate professor of TPU’s chair of theoretical and experimental physics, and Viktor Filimonov heads the Russian university’s biotechnology and organic chemistry chair. The third is Julia Kzhyshkowska, a professor of Germany’s Heidelberg University who has led the team’s immunology-focused effort.

Last year Pfizer, an international biomed giant, acknowledged Ms. Stankevich’s solution as “the best student research project in biomedicine” and granted the Siberian undergraduate a personal $7,700 stipend to support the further development of the effort.

“Of course, I will continue to develop the project. Already we have several new ideas to look thoroughly into. Undoubtedly, we will pursue the commercialization of this project as this is a purely applied sort of effort. The new coatings are likely to take medicine to a wholly new level,” Ms. Stankevich said.
Oleg Kouzbit, managing editor: “I’m glad you join us here and take The Bridge walk for Marchmont’s weekly review of the Russian regions’ innovative present and future. Stay close and you’ll find out more of how Russia is bridging the existing gap between its researchers and businesses.”
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Locations: Tomsk

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