Biocompatibility is a pre-requisite for all biomaterials used for medical application. During the last two decades significant advances have been made in the development of novel materials and selection and use of these materials has been directly dependent upon their biocompatibility. Several materials containing calcium or titanium cations demonstrate biocompatibility and are routinely used in various forms within the human body. Due to its position in the periodic table, scandium in the form of its oxide scandia (Sc(2)O(3)) was studied as the first stage of a wider exploration of the biocompatibility of ceramics. A commercial human osteoblast-like cell line (HOS TE 85) was used to study the biocompatibility of both sintered and abraded scandia surfaces. Scanning electron microscopy was used to examine cell adhesion, the MTT assay was used to measure cell metabolic function and the alamarBlue for the assessment of proliferation. Although the results are only preliminary findings, qualitative observations showed that both sintered and abraded surfaces favoured cell adhesion to the same extent. Quantitatively, a significant increase in cell proliferation was observed on Sc(2)O(3) compared to Thermanox, tissue culture control. Furthermore, Sc(2)O(3) has been shown to be non-toxic, able to be maintain cell viability and support cell growth and proliferation.
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