Professor Creates FDA-Approved Bioengineered Implant
An NYUCD professor has come up with a new twist on dental implants
that speeds healing, minimizes bone loss, and promotes longevity
of the implant.
Professor John Ricci's design for an implant, whose surface has
been precisely engineered for stability, received FDA approval last
October and became widely available to dentists this past winter.
Dr. Ricci, an Associate Professor of Biomaterials and Biomimetics,
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.
He originally developed this technology while serving as a faculty
member of the NYU-Hospital for Joint Diseases. His collaborators
included Dr. Sally Frenkel, an Associate Professor at the hospital's
Musculoskeletal Research Center; the late Dr. Charles Naiman, a
laser physicist; and Dr. Harry Alexander, an Adjunct Professor of
Bioengineering at Rutgers University and the President of Orthogen
Corporation, a start-up research company he co-founded with Dr.
Ricci. Orthogen refined the technology and later licensed it to
BioLok International, which won FDA approval to market it as the
"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."
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.