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The establishment of the Baltic Biomaterials Centre of Excellence will make innovative materials more accessible to patients

The number of patients that receive maxillofacial surgery manipulations with the use of biomaterials at the Institute of Stomatology of Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) is increasing every year. By ensuring a full cycle of biomaterial development in Latvia, the accessibility of modern medical services will improve.

Approximately 13,900 patients visit the Institute of Stomatology of RSU every month. On average 70 of the aforementioned patients receive various biomaterials, bone substitute granules and bone tissue implants in the maxillofacial area. The number of such patients has doubled over the last five years. Demand for this type of surgery is driven by the increased life expectancy of society and higher demand for quality of life and aesthetics. Modern medical materials and technologies not only allow the implantation of dental prosthetics and implants having much higher functional and aesthetic qualities, but also prevent various maxillofacial pathologies or consequences in the event of severe diseases or trauma.

Maxillofacial surgeon, Assoc. Prof. Ģirts Šalms, explains: “The limited availability of specific and expensive technologies and the opportunities of close co-operation with a developer and manufacturer of biomaterials prevent us from providing the service to as many patients as we would like. The establishment of the Baltic Biomaterials Centre of Excellence (BBCE) will provide patients with a comprehensive range of more accessible innovative therapy services at the Institute of Stomatology of RSU” Meanwhile, medical and technical specialists will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge, the study environment will be upgraded and the training of young specialists will be improved, including improved therapy process planning and modelling skills by using 3D technologies.

BBCE will provide a full cycle of biomaterial development, from a laboratory concept to clinical application, focusing on new materials for bone repair, facial reconstruction, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthopaedics and other areas. Internationally recognised research institutions and industry representatives have united to implement this scientific project - Riga Technical University (RTU), RSU, Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (OSI), Institute of Stomatology of RSU, AO Research Institute in Davos, Switzerland, and Friedrich Alexander University of Elrangen-Nuremberg Institute of Biomaterials in Germany. EUR 15 million for the implementation of the project were awarded within the framework of call for proposals of the European Union Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020, while the other EUR 15 million shall be provided by the state, the European Regional Development Fund and project partners. In cooperation with foreign partners, the competence of Latvian scientists will be improved, and the cooperation with industry will ensure the transfer of knowledge and technologies.

Clinical approbation of the developed biomaterials will be implemented at the Institute of Stomatology of RSU in the areas of oral and maxillofacial surgery, implantology and periodontology. The close collaboration between the material developer, the clinic and the patient will provide immediate feedback, enabling the development of materials that suit patients best.

Clinical approbation of biomaterials at the Institute of Stomatology of RSU has been underway since its renewal in 1994. The first theses, authored by Professor Andrejs Skaģers, were published in Germany in 1995. The specialists of the Institute of Stomatology of RSU have developed and defended a total of four doctoral dissertations.

The opening ceremony of the BBCE project will take place on 29 January at the Faculty of Materials Science and Applied Chemistry of RTU in 3/7 Paula Valdena Street (Paula Valdena iela 3/7), with the participation of the state president Egils Levits, officials of the European Commission and of the state and representatives of universities and scientific institutions.

BBCE is a Teaming Phase 2 project under grant agreement No. 857287 funded by EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.