Different coatings trigger different cell reactions. © Protip SAS, Strasbourg

Using Implants Without Side Effects

Research team working on EU IMMODGEL project develops innovative hydrogel-based system

Implants often trigger undesirable immune responses. The partners working on the EU IMMODGEL research project have developed a system consisting of chemical and biological components to avoid such negative reactions in the future. The consortium consists of the universities of Heidelberg, Nottingham, and Strasbourg, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the United States, plus a variety of SMEs from France, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. Steinbeis 2i is acting as the coordinator of the project and will manage administrative and financial aspects. It will also provide consortium partners with support on protecting intellectual property rights and sharing project results.

The emphasis of IMMODGEL lies in dental and laryngeal implants made from titanium. A system has been designed to be adaptable enough for use with any kind of implant, medical device, or transplant. Diagnostic tests were also set up to predict the immune responses of patients. The chemical and physical attributes of the design were then adjusted to avoid rejection, and for the first time implants could be adapted individually.

Different coatings trigger different cell reactions. © Protip SAS, Strasbourg

Working in collaboration with Protobios, a company from Estonia, the University of Heidelberg detected specific markers that can be used to capture the reactions of individuals to titanium. The results were used to work out the optimum combination of biomaterials and cytokines to inhibit inflammation. To exponentiate this effect, the University of Nottingham team analyzed the topography of surfaces and selected optimal microstructures for integrating into the final therapeutic solution. The other partners in the consortium have improved the formulation of the gel and developed an adhesive layer that will keep it on the titanium surface.

The consortium partners discovered unexpected antimicrobial properties in the layer, and this led to the first patent submitted by the group in the field of polypeptide and hyaluronic acid coatings. The American researchers spearheaded by Prof. Ali Khademhosseini developed a “Foreign Body Response on-a-chip” system, which can analyze reactions to titanium under conditions similar to in vivo testing. The results of the project were presented at the closing conference during the TERMIS-EU meeting in Switzerland in June 2017.


Dr. Mercedes Dragovits
Steinbeis 2i GmbH (Karlsruhe)
twitter: @immodgel