New York University - College of Dentistry
Home The College Research Academic Programs Library/Resources Continuing Education Community Outreach International Programs
Click to View Virtual Tour

 > News


NYU Dental Professor Wins FDA Approval for Bioengineered Implant

NYUCD Professor Wins FDA Approval for Bioengineered Implant
Additional Tissue-Engineered Applications Expected to Follow

Because conventional dental implant surfaces do not firmly attach to gums, dentists have long found it a challenge to create a stable foundation to secure an implant. As a result, the gums surrounding the implant may become inflamed, and if the inflammation spreads, it can erode the bone and loosen the implant.

But recently the FDA approved NYU Professor John Ricci's design for an implant whose surface has been precisely engineered for stability. Dr. Ricci, an Associate Professor of Biomaterials and Biomimetics at NYU's College of Dentistry, etched microgrooves that are exactly the size of soft and bone tissue cells -- 8-12,000th of a millimeter deep -- into the top, or collar, of the implant, using a computer-guided laser to pattern these grooves so that they lock the cells into a "tissue-engineered" seal. His collaborators included Dr. Sally Frankel, an Associate Professor at the Musculoskeletal Research Center of the Hospital for Joint Diseases, the late Dr. Charles Naiman, a laser physicist, and Dr. Harry Alexander, the President of Orthogen Corporation and an Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at Rutgers University.

"Because the new LaserLok™ implant prevents bone loss and promotes faster healing of the gums following surgery, dentists can make greater use of early and immediate loading protocols that may reduce treatment time by as much as six months," Dr. Ricci said. "Immediate implant placement can restore patients with relatively healthy gums and good oral hygiene to improved function and esthetics in as little as one treatment visit, compared to traditional protocols requiring patients to wait up to six months after surgery for their gums to heal and for bone to stabilize the implant."

When laser-microtextured dental implant restorations were compared with conventional ones, bone loss was reduced to half a millimeter from nearly two millimeters, according to findings from a pilot study by the Italian Group for Implant Research presented at a meeting of the Academy of Osseointegration last year. The gum tissue sealed to the LaserLok™ surface was more stable and less prone to inflammation that leads to deep pocket formation, the researchers said. A four-year follow-up study comparing LaserLok™ and conventional implants is now underway at NYU under the direction of Dr. Dennis P. Tarnow, Professor and Chairman of the Dr. Arthur Ashman Department of Implant Dentistry, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Implant Dentistry Dr. Nicolas Elian.

Marketed by BioLok International, LaserLok™ is the first FDA-approved implant with a tissue-engineered microtextured surface. Dr. Ricci believes the FDA action may help speed other microtexturing applications to market. "Once you've convinced the FDA of your safety and efficacy, it's easier to get a serious hearing from potential licensing partners," he said.

Though Dr. Ricci first envisioned orthopedic applications when he began laser microtexturing experiments 15 years ago, he soon focused on dental implants, because clinical results in the mouth are relatively easier to observe and document than in other parts of the body. Dr. Ricci, a cofounder of the Orthogen Corporation, a microtexturing research venture that was later bought by BioLok, said: "Our success in dentistry gives us a good basis to move on to orthopedic applications, such as improving tissue integration for artificial hip joints and transcutaneous pins used in fracture repair."

Dr. Ricci also is studying microtexturing's ability to enhance the performance of artificial lenses for cataract patients and to facilitate the integration of electrical sensors controlling a motorized prosthesis designed to provide amputees with mechanical control mimicking normal function.

View All News Archive Media Contacts
Share on Facebook