Rochelle O'Hara, Queens University Belfast, Nothern Ireland's Finalist

Rochelle graduated from the University of Ulster Jordanstown in 2007 with a first class honours in BSc Biomedical Engineering. In the same year she started a three year postgraduate research position at Queen’s University Belfast. Her research is involved in developing novel materials for the treatment of spinal fractures.

Development of an Injectable Medical Material for Spinal Repair

Calcium phosphate bone cements (CPCs) offer the potential to resorb and  promote the formation of new bone. These cements are made by mixing a powder component with an aqueous solution to form an injectable paste which can be moulded in situ to a specific bone cavity. For these reasons, CPCs may be a suitable candidate for the restoration of the vertebral body after spinal fractures. One minimally invasive surgical technique that treats vertebral fractures is vertebroplasty.

Current CPC systems have low mechanical properties and are highly brittle therefore not suited for load bearing applications. The introduction of material phases, like that of natural collagen fibres, may provide a means to improve the mechanical integrity of the cement.  

This lecture will explain the production process of a CPC system, and describe the effects on the mechanical and handling properties with the addition of collagen fibres.