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Researchers from the Rudolfs Cimdins Riga Biomaterials Innovation and Development Center of RTU (RTU RBIDC) introduced the representatives of the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a project where they develop a novel technology for transforming eggshells into the biomaterials for bone regeneration.
The project, «Waste-to-resource: eggshells as a source for next generation biomaterials for bone regeneration (EGGSHELL)» (No. EEA-RESEARCH-85), is one of the projects within the Baltic Research Programme. The programme is supported by the European Economic Area grants, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway (No. EEZ/BPP/VIAA/2021/1). RTU implements the project in collaboration with the University of Oslo (UiO), University of Reykjavik (RU), and Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech).
During the visit to the RTU RBIDC the representative of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elin Graae Linnestad met with the project coordinator, Dagnija Loča, who is the RTU leading researcher in the Faculty of Materials Science and Applied Chemistry. They were also accompanied with the Norwegian Embassy advisors Agnese Cimdina and Iveta Medvida, and interns Sara Aurora Meyer and Magnus Johannesen Lysrud. The guests familiarized themselves with the center's infrastructure for implementing scientific projects, discussed the cooperation efficiency within the EGGSHELL project implementation team, challenges that have arised during the implementation of the project, and the opportunities provided by the multidisciplinary cooperation between Latvia, Norway, Iceland and Estonia.
To get a better understanding of the activities and daily routines of the scientists at the RTU RBIDC, the guests had the opportunity to take a part in the synthesis of the inorganic component of bones. The activity was demonstrated by the leading researcher of the EGGSHELL project, Kristaps Rubenis, and the scientific assistant Signe Zemjāne.
The goal of the EGGSHELL project is to develop a novel concept for conversion of the eggshells into a next generation of biomaterials for bone regeneration. Scientists from RTU synthesize amorphous calcium phosphate, project partners from TalTech develop macroporous scaffolds from the synthesized amorphous calcium phosphate, and scientists from RU and UiO characterize and evaluate the biocompatibility of the developed materials for potential use as bone implant materials.
Dagnija Loča notes that there is a lot of data on using eggshells for the synthesis of crystalline calcium phosphates (e.g., hydroxyapatite and tricalcium phosphate), however, their use for the synthesis of amorphous calcium phosphate is not widely studied. This is mainly related to the metastability of the amorphous calcium phosphate.
In the EGGSHELL project, eggshells are being used as a raw material for the synthesis of amorphous calcium phosphate (as a calcium source), from which novel, porous, ceramic scaffolds, similar to the natural bone will be obtained for the first time. Amorphous calcium phosphates synthesized in the laboratory can replace the inorganic part of the bone, meaning that they can be used to treat bone fractures and other diseases associated with the loss of bone mass. To fully utilize eggshells, the project also involves the extraction of proteins from eggshell membranes. They have a high content of bioactive substances and are known to possess antibacterial properties. The obtained proteins are intended to be used for coating the developed porous ceramic scaffolds, thus giving the material unique properties.