2013 Volume 36 Issue 11 Pages 1670-1675
Several varieties of ceramics, such as Bioglass-type glasses, sintered hydroxyapatite and glass-ceramic A–W, exhibit specific biological affinity, i.e., direct bonding to surrounding bone, when implanted in bony defects. These bone-bonding ceramics are called bioactive ceramics and are utilized as important bone substitutes in the medical field. However, there is a limitation to their clinical applications because of their inappropriate mechanical properties. Natural bone takes a kind of organic–inorganic composite, where apatite nanocrystals are precipitated on collagen fibers. Therefore, problems with the bioactive ceramics can be solved by material design based on the composites. In this paper, current research topics on the development of bioactive organic–inorganic composites inspired by actual bone microstructure have been reviewed in correlation with preparation methods and various properties. Several kinds of inorganic components have been found to exhibit bioactivity in the body environment. Combination of the inorganic components with various organic polymers enables the development of bioactive organic–inorganic composites. In addition, novel biomedical applications of the composites to drug delivery systems, scaffolds for tissue regeneration and injectable biomaterials are available by combining drugs or biological molecules with appropriate control of its microstructure.