The AndrÉ Schroeder Research Prize, an annual award  for the advancement of dental research and development, was presented in Bern to Mr. Karthikeyan Subramani, an Indian biomedical nanotechnologist currently conducting research at the School of Surgical and Reproductive Science at Newcastle University Medical School in the UK. The award was presented by Straumann’s President and CEO, Gilbert Achermann, at the AndrÉ Schroeder Memorial Symposium, a dental congress currently in the Swiss capital.
Subramani (28), who is the 13th recipient of this prestigious prize worth 20,000 Swiss francs (about $24,500), holds a bachelor’s degree in dentistry and a masters in nanotechnology. He was selected by the jury for his scientific investigation of the cell adhesive properties of polyethylene glycol (PEG) hydrogel and its potential as a carrier for growth factors. A possible application of this might be to modify implant surfaces in order to guide and promote differentiated tissue-attachment to specific areas, while preventing attachment to others.
Subramani’s work looked at PEG hydrogels coated on a surface using photolithographic techniques. The gels were shown to be ideal for incorporating proteins, such as osteoinductive growth factors, which were released over time to provide a signal to cells. Most impressively, the project succeeded in creating micropatterns on the hydrogel surface. The patterns were made up of tiny defined areas (wells or grooves), as small as 50 micrometers, which contained the osteoinductive growth factor VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). The adjacent areas on the other hand were empty. The study showed that bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) clearly migrated to the areas containing VEGF. It is  postulated that this research might lead to modified implant surfaces that stimulate bone formation in specific areas, while preventing it in others. It may therefore offer intriguing possibilities to implant designers in the future as they seek to improve treatment outcomes and further enhance the standard of patient care.