Life Science and Biomaterials
The Life Science and Biomaterials Sector is an ever-evolving industry, where biology, chemistry, materials science and engineering converge to drive the development of innovative materials and technologies in healthcare, biotechnology, agriculture and beyond.
The history of life sciences and biomaterials date back centuries, evolving from herbal medicines and attempts to understand and utilise materials for medical purposes. Significant advancements in the 20th century, with the discovery of penicillin, unravelling DNA’s structure, and the development of synthetic polymers, biocompatible materials and breakthroughs in genetic engineering, have created the foundation to today’s landscape.
The sector faces complex challenges from biocompatibility, regulatory compliance, sustainable materials, the quest for effective treatments to emerging diseases, and ethical dilemmas of genetic engineering. These challenges and the breakthroughs in materials science, nanotechnology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence are opening up opportunities for personalised medicine, regenerative therapies, precision diagnostics and bioscience research and development. Goodfellow, a trusted global supplier of high-quality advanced materials and expert technical services have already partnered with this industry to provide life science and biomaterials solutions.
Biomaterials play an important role in healthcare, both as an option for treatment and also disease prevention. A wide array of materials are used for such purposes, from lightweight aluminium alloys for joint replacements to specially prepared textiles for infection control.
The three main types of biomaterials used include metals, ceramics, and polymers. As a biomaterial is any substance that is intended to be in contact or interact with biological systems, there needs to be a consideration about whether this interaction can produce adverse effects.
As a result of the potential health risks of biomaterials, the life science and biomaterials sector is one of the most heavily regulated. While material science and medical developments are continually happening at a rapid pace, the need for extensive regulatory compliance can frustrate and hamper the pace at which new biomedical products are brought to market.
Biomaterials development and applications are one area within the broader life sciences sector that also covers pharmaceuticals, diagnostic development, and data evaluation for health applications. Within the life sciences sector, biomaterials is a rapidly growing and developing area as international challenges such as aging populations become increasingly pressing to address.
Finding the right biomaterials has the potential to provide new scaffolds for tissue injuries and regeneration, dental implants, and even repair injuries to the central nervous system that have very limited available treatments in other areas of medicine.
Sector challenges for Life Science and Biomaterials
Given the potential of biomaterials to address such a vast array of applications in the life sciences area, one of the biggest challenges in the sector is finding a way to bring new developments to market faster. Aspects that must be considered when developing new materials for biomaterials applications include extractables and leachables testing, biocompatibility tests, and all of the more standard physical property tests that must be performed for any type of material.
One way to accelerate regulatory approval and streamline testing is to adapt materials that have already received approval and where there is existing extensive safety data that can be applied to the new development. Overall, this reduces the testing burden and associated costs, which can provide significant savings in a sector often faced with challenging research and development costs.
Working alongside material science experts, such as Goodfellow, can help you to identify potential biomaterial candidates from a catalogue of existing materials for which there is sufficient data. By involving experts in material science, from the beginning of the design and prototyping process, Goodfellow can not just be a reliable and rapid supplier of prototype materials but can also advise and support the choice of material, as well as provide bespoke solutions where required.
Cost is often a significant issue for the biomaterials sector. Developing new products is often high risk and lengthy work, so minimising costs at the design and prototyping stage to produce a profitable product becomes increasingly important. Goodfellow can also support cost reduction in the prototyping stage, as there is no minimum order size. Goodfellow is an expert in enabling research at all points in the development process.
Quality control also becomes absolutely critical for the life science and biomaterials sector. Safety considerations and regulatory compliance mean biomaterials must pass some of the most rigorous testing and quality control processes. This rigor is essential to ensure patient safety, and it means many materials have to not just meet the specifications for the final application but exceed these numbers, so there is a significant safety margin in their performance.
The need for high-quality, reliable materials in the biomaterials sector means that suppliers must have very stringent manufacturing and control processes to meet these needs. Goodfellow prides itself on achieving this level of care and attention to detail by providing full batch traceability on all the materials it supplies.
Material choices suitable for the Life Science and Biomaterials Sector
One example of a biomaterial is Goodfellow’s Hastalex® range of materials. Hastalex® is a specially designed nanocomposite that is exclusive to Goodfellow that has been specifically designed for medical devices and surgical implants. Being non-toxic and biocompatible while remaining extremely strong and elastic, BioHastalex® is one example of an ideal material as a starting point for new device design and prototyping.
Other examples of biomaterials offered by Goodfellow include a series of graphene oxide derivates, including standard and functionalised forms. Graphene oxide is used in a number of different electronic applications, but its biocompatibility makes it ideal for integration into biosensors where both its conductivity and biological inertness can be exploited.
Functionalisation can be used to tune the properties of the graphene oxide for a number of different applications, such as providing tissue scaffolds and drug delivery systems. As Goodfellow offers such high purity levels, success with compliance standards is also improved.
Contact Goodfellow to find out how its highly advanced materials range can support your biomaterials and life sciences development and manufacture.