The European Ceramic Society


Oct 4, 2023

YCN Newsletter 18 - Research in Spot "A bridge between material science and drug delivery" by Ilijana Kovrlija

Approximately half of the global population over 60 is said to experience musculoskeletal diseases, significantly influencing their quality of life.

When combined with an ever-growing number of patients suffering from malignant bone tumors (~40% worldwide), these conditions impose a substantial burden on individuals, as well as on healthcare and welfare systems. Presently, the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders primarily revolves around prosthetic rehabilitation or regenerative surgical methods, which may involve the implantation of scaffolds based on different biomaterials. The chemical structure of calcium phosphate materials closely resembles that of bone minerals. Their capacity for customization and in vivo resorption opens up numerous potential avenues in bone regeneration. Despite extensive research spanning several years and the introduction of various products to the market, achieving the ideal blend of properties in calcium phosphate biomaterials for them to be osteoinductive, injectable, and suitable for clinical applications remains a complex challenge.

My work is dedicated to finding a solution to these concerns through the development of production technology of octacalcium phosphate (OCP) and its functionalization for regenerative technologies within the musculoskeletal field. Apart from being biocompatible, biodegradable, osteoconductive and osteoinductive material, OCP has been recognized as a precursor in the process of bone formation. Owing to its highly pertinent structure, it is being used as a vehicle for biologically active substances or ions for bone regeneration. However, crafting drug delivery systems with OCP for the utmost effectiveness remains a pioneering concept, and comprehensive data in this area is still in short supply. At the Baltic Biomaterial Centre of Excellence (BBCE) in Latvia, we have developed several synthesis methodologies that address multiple difficulties when it comes to OCP production (e.g. yield, speed of the process, purity etc.) and we have been working on the utilization of it in the form of coatings, bone cements, but also drug delivery vehicles. Even though incorporation of drugs into OCP has already shown a high potential, there is a significant lack of evidence on the complete release profile in vitro and their effect on different cell lines. Combining OCP with anticancer drugs is particularly advantageous due to OCP’s ability to incorporate active substance both inside and on the surface, retaining it until the particle has reached the target site. Complex formulation between OCP and anticancer drugs could contribute to increased cytotoxicity against cancer cells, but at the same time it could enhance cell proliferation of normal cells through the presence of elevated Ca2+ ions in the surrounding environment. Future work will involve working closely with BBCE’s partners to test our materials in in vivo surroundings and to understand the background of the seamlessly running cascade of actions that lead to the bone regeneration.


Ilijana Kovrlija 

Baltic Biomaterial Center of Excellence

Riga Technical University

Riga, Latvia

Last news

Apr 18, 2024
Next Deadline to apply to the JECS Trust is 31st May 2024!

Please note that the decisions of the JECS Trust board will not be known before end of July 2024. Activities submitted for the deadline of 31st May 2024 for support from the JECS Trust should then not begin before mid-August 2024.

Apr 17, 2024
YCN Newsletter 21 - Interview of Dr. Stefan Pfeiffer

Interview of Dr. Stefan Pfeiffer Managing Director of the Deutsche Keramische Gesellschaft (DKG) and former YCN representative


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