Local implant research for facial fracture in Zamboanga City seeks cheaper alternative for titanium

Researchers from Zamboanga City are currently working on a project that seeks to provide an alternative for titanium implants and further improve surgeries to correct jaw and facial deformities.

Supported by the Department of Science and Technology -Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), the local implant will make use of emerging biomaterials and modern technology.

This local implant, DOST-PCHRD said that this is a cheaper alternative in treating mandibular fractures, a type of facial fracture commonly caused by vehicular accidents.

According to the agency, mandibular fractures are the most common facial bone fracture in the country. The standard practice for the treatment of this fracture involves the use of titanium implants as it provides the benefit of immediate restoration of the face’s normal form and function.

Dr. Rentor Y. Cafino, Medical Officer IV of Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) said that the project can minimize surgical time and enhance patient recovery. Cafino led the development of a local 3D-printed osteosynthesis plate using emerging biomaterials such as polyetheretherketone or more commonly known as PEEK.

Custom implants using PEEK can be 3D-printed in the hospital or laboratory and can be specifically modeled with the patient’s anatomical structure, which eliminates long waiting times and reduces costs. Initiated in August 2022, the team also hopes to participate in the creation of policies on the standardization of in-house implant manufacturing and the integration and inclusion of custom implants in health insurance companies in the country.

To date, the project team has already finalized the implant design and optimized the print profiles per implant dimension. The team also started 3D printing of PEEK, which was attached to a synthetic mandible, and conducted initial testing of the samples to improve its mechanical properties.

The product will undergo further testing required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before human clinical trials.