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Since their development by the late Prof. Larry L. Hench in the early 1970's and their first clinical use in the mid-1980's, bioactive glasses have constantly attracted the research interest of materials scientists, biologists, tissue engineers and clinicians. This is not surprising, as bioactive glasses have a range of fascinating properties: They were the first man-made material to form an integrated bond with bone. Owing to their inherent release of biologically active ions, such as silicon ions, when in contact with body fluids and tissue, they stimulate cell behaviour and can obviate or reduce the need for supplementation with growth factors. Bioactive glass implants degrade over time and allow for bone to be regenerated. Owing to their amorphous structure, therapeutic ions can be incorporated into, and released from, bioactive glasses easily, widening the therapeutic spectrum considerably.

Lately, bioactive glasses have started to be increasingly successful, both clinically and commercially, with Larry Hench's first bioactive glass, Bioglass 45S5, still being the most used composition to date. It is now a widely used synthetic bone graft in the United States (e.g. under the names of NovaBone or PerioGlas), while another bioactive glass, S53P4 (or BonAlive), which was developed in Finland, has been used with great clinical success to combat bone infections. Other uses for bioactive glasses have emerged, the major commercial success being the use of 45S5 (NovaMin) as a remineralising additive in toothpastes for the treatment of dentine hypersensitivity. 45S5 powder (Sylc) is also sold as a product for air abrasion and air polishing in oral healthcare.

Besides their traditional applications in the orthopaedic and dental fields, a new field of uses for bioactive glasses, supported by their angiogenic effects, is emerging in soft-tissue repair and wound healing. A borate bioactive glass should be mentioned here, which is used for wound healing applications in animals (RediHeal) while also awaiting FDA approval for use in humans for treating slow-healing wounds, particularly in patients suffering from diabetes.

Owing to these clinical successes, new biomaterials based on bioactive glasses are constantly being investigated. Orthopaedic applications currently focus on non-load bearing implants in granulate form, but porous bioactive glass scaffolds are being increasingly considered in bone regeneration strategies. One important point here is vascularisation, and several new bioactive glass compositions which release ions promoting this are being investigated. Another current research area is bioactive glasses as drug delivery vehicles, e.g. in mesoporous form derived from sol–gel methods. The recent use of the bottom-up sol–gel approach for the synthesis of organic/inorganic hybrids allowed for the combination of an organic and inorganic phase at an atomic scale, adding to the field of traditional glass/polymer composite materials. In order to widen the field of bioactive glass applications, their compositional range has to be extended, and current research not only includes the traditional Hench-type phosphosilicate bioactive glasses but also borate glasses, phosphate glasses or sol–gel derived compositions and nanomaterials.

This book aims to bridge the different scientific communities associated with the field of bioactive glasses with a focus on the materials science point of view, covering both traditional and emerging bioactive glass applications. For the reader familiar with medicine or dentistry, the book will describe the possibilities and challenges of glasses and bioactive glass-based materials to be developed and manufactured for healthcare applications. For tissue engineers, the book will reveal the emerging field of applications of bioactive glass scaffolds for the regeneration of hard and soft tissue. For the materials scientist, the most relevant requirements which the dynamic human body environment imposes onto bioactive glasses will be discussed, and concepts for tailoring or predicting bioactive glass properties will be addressed. In addition, combinations of bioactive glasses with polymers will be covered, mainly for soft tissue applications, drug delivery and other advanced uses in regenerative medicine.

The book is divided into three main parts: Fundamentals, Technology and Applications, each including a series of chapters written by international authorities in the respective fields. We hope that this book will contribute to extending the field of bioactive glasses, and that it will be useful not only to established researchers but particularly to those students and young researchers who are starting their careers in the biomaterials field.

Sadly, Prof. Larry L. Hench, the inventor of bioactive glasses, passed away in December 2015, at the time the chapters for this book were being written. As Larry had originally agreed to write an introduction for our book, it is our great honour to dedicate this book to his memory.

Aldo R. Boccaccini, Erlangen, Germany

Delia S. Brauer, Jena, Germany

Leena Hupa, Turku, Finland

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