Bioactive glasses caused a revolution in healthcare and paved the way for modern biomaterial-driven regenerative medicine. The first 45S5 glass composition, invented by Larry Hench fifty years ago, was able to bond to living bone and to stimulate osteogenesis through the release of biologically-active ions. 45S5-based glass products have been successfully implanted in millions of patients worldwide, mainly to repair bone and dental defects and, over the years, many other bioactive glass compositions have been proposed for innovative biomedical applications, such as soft tissue repair and drug delivery. The full potential of bioactive glasses seems still yet to be fulfilled, and many of today’s achievements were unthinkable when research began. As a result, the research involving bioactive glasses is highly stimulating and requires a cross-disciplinary collaboration among glass chemists, bioengineers, and clinicians. The present article provides a picture of the current clinical applications of bioactive glasses, and depicts six relevant challenges deserving to be tackled in the near future. We hope that this work can be useful to both early-stage researchers, who are moving with their first steps in the world of bioactive glasses, and experienced scientists, to stimulate discussion about future research and discover new applications for glass in medicine.
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