Researchers at UT Arlington have developed a new computational model to predict foreign-body reactions caused by medical implants such as stents, catheters and artificial joints. The research was led by Liping Tang, professor of bioengineering in the UT Arlington College of Engineering, and Jianzhong Su, chairman and professor in the UT Arlington College of Science’s mathematics department. The study entitled “A computational model of fibroblast and macrophage spatial/temporal dynamics in foreign body reactions” was published in the Journal of Immunological Methods.
“Our efforts have transformed complex and dynamic biological interactions and pathways into a simplified mathematical formula,” said Tang in a UT Arlington press release. “This model will allow us to improve the biocompatibility of medical devices and identify the timing and dosages of treatments when reactions occur.”
Almost all medical implants cause a foreign body reaction, which can cause severe inflammation and form fibrotic capsules around the implants. These conditions could compromise the effectiveness of devices. The severity of foreign body reactions can be changed in large part by the behavior of microphages, cells in body’s immune system.
Researchers divided microphages into three types based on their functions, and constructed mathematical equations based on the kinetic characteristics of microphages and fibroblasts (connective tissue). They reviewed their results from wound healing especially at the skin surface to increase the accuracy of their calculations.
“Foreign body reactions are very complex, involving many cells, proteins and other biological elements. The experimental measurement data are really scarce to capture the entire process,” said Su. “We overcome this difficulty by learning from what happens in wound healing, a similar biological process.”
Tang and Su will continue their collaboration and research by addressing the biological conditions unique in patients that could affect wound healing and foreign body interactions.