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What Is Alloplant?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 30 June 2014
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Alloplant is a biomaterial developed in Russia in the 1970s for use in some surgical procedures. It is made by processing tissue from donor cadavers with the goal of reducing the risk of rejection so it can be used more safely in transplants. Independent research on this material is difficult to find, as the primary site of production and use is at a Russian clinic, although some researchers have treated patients with Alloplant transplants and written about their cases. Primarily, the substance is used in ophthalmological procedures.

The medical evidence for allografting, the use of donor material from a person who is a close match to the recipient, is strong. Allografts can be used for treatments like restoring skin after severe burns, replacing bone marrow in patients with certain blood cancers, and bone repair surgeries. Researchers involved in the development of Alloplant attempted to build on this, taking advantage of the known ability to use donor material from cadavers in grafts to develop a better product for this purpose.

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Processing donor material involves irradiation for sterilization purposes before fitting it to a patient. Advocates for Alloplant argue that it can stimulate new tissue growth in the patient’s own body to restore function. This can also occur to some extent with an allograft, which will eventually integrate with the underlying tissue; however, it can’t actually cause tissue regeneration, as claimed with Alloplant. Materials that can successfully promote new tissue growth have numerous potential applications, making experimental procedures that test them of much interest.

Some researchers are skeptical about the merits of Alloplant. It hasn’t been subjected to rigorous clinical testing and peer review which would allow scientists to document its safety and effectiveness. Some encounters with patients who have Alloplant grafts don’t support the claims made by its developers. Researchers are interested in controlled samples to evaluate in a neutral environment so they can learn more about how the material is produced and how it behaves inside the body.

Medical science advances rapidly, resulting in constant changes to the best treatment options and protocols, as well as the available materials. Whether Alloplant specifically is successful, medical researchers are interested in the possibility of processing cadaver tissue to make it usable in a wide range of grafting procedures. Tissue regeneration in particular has tremendous potential as a therapeutic option for treating a range of conditions, if it can be made medically feasible.

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