Artificial ‘injectable bone’ that flows like toothpaste, and hardens in the body, has been invented by British scientists.
This new regenerative medicine technology provides a scaffold for the formation of blood vessels and bone tissue, and can also deliver stem cells directly to the site of bone repair, say the researchers.
“Injectable bone is the first delivery system for stem cells and growth factors that forms a material with the strength of a bone,” said Robin Quirk, a pharmacist and co-founder of RegenTec – the University of Nottingham, In England, spin-off company commercialising the technology.
No more surgery
Quirk said he hopes that injectable bone might one day reduce or eliminate the need for bone-grafts to repair skeletal defects and fractures – which often require painful invasive surgery.
Not only does the technique reduce the need for dangerous surgery, it also avoids damaging neighbouring areas, said Kevin Shakesheff, a tissue engineer and drug delivery pharmacist at Nottingham who masterminded the breakthrough.
The technology’s superiority over existing alternatives is the novel hardening process and strength of the bond, said Quirk. Older products heat-up as they harden, killing surrounding cells, whereas ‘injectable bone’ hardens at body temperature – without generating heat – making a very porous, biodegradable structure.
“Because the material does not heat-up, surrounding bone cells can survive and grow,” added Shakesheff.
The invention emerged from a combination of research into implant able scaffolds that encourage new bone to grow and new techniques to deliver stem cells and drugs to specific sites. These studies spawned the new concept of an injectable matrix as the building block for tissue regeneration, said the researchers. – cosmos