Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. David A. Puleo


Bone regeneration or augmentation is often required prior to or concomitant with implant placement. With the limitations of many existing technologies, a biologically compatible synthetic bone grafting substitute that is osteogenic, bioerodible, and provides spacing-making functionality while acting as a drug delivery vehicle for bioactive molecules could provide an alternative to ‘gold standard’ techniques.

In the first part of this work, calcium sulfate (CS) space-making synthetic bone grafts with uniformly embedded poly(β-amino ester) (PBAE) biodegradable hydrogel particles was developed to allow controlled release of bioactive agents. The embedded gel particles’ influence on the physical and chemical characteristics of CS was tested. Namely, the compressive strength and modulus, dissolution, and morphology, were studied. All CS samples dissolved via zero-order surface erosion consistent to one another. Compression testing concluded that the amount, but not size, of embedded gel particles significantly decreased (up to 75%) the overall mechanical strength of the composite. Release studies were conducted to explore this system’s ability to deliver a broad range of drug types and sizes. Lysozyme (model protein for larger growth factors like bone morphogenic protein [BMP]) was loaded into PBAE particles embedded in CS matrix. The release of simvastatin, a small molecule drug capable of up regulating BMP production, was also examined. The release of both lysozyme and simvastatin was governed by dissolution of CS.

The second part of this work proposed a bilayered CS implant. The physical and chemical properties were characterized similarly to the CS composites above. Release kinetics of directly loaded simvastatin in either the shell, core, or both were investigated. A sequential release of simvastatin was witnessed giving foresight of the composite’s tunability. The sequential release of an antibacterial, metronidazole, loaded into poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) particles embedded into the shell along with directly loaded simvastatin either in the shell, core, or both layers was also observed. Through controlled release of bioactive agents, as well as a tunable layered geometry, CS-based implants have the potential to be optimized in order to help streamline the steps required for the healing and regeneration of compromised bone tissue.