Synthetic bone breakthrough

March 2, 2009


Australian researchers at Queensland University of Technology have developed a synthetic biomaterial that encourages the body to create bone. This breakthrough could be the answer to successful bone grafts and treating bone disease because the new material interacts with blood and activates the initial stages of bone healing.

When you break a bone your body responds immediately by attracting blood clots and specialized cells to the site. The necessary proteins, hormones and other cells are immediately dispatched to create new bone, but sometimes the body cannot carry out this natural process if the break is too great, or a tumour has been removed which leaves too great a gap for the body to fill. There are already bone grafts or synthetic materials being used but they have their limitations.

The new biomaterial encourages the body’s natural clotting process, and promotes bone growth. The difference lies in its surface structure, which is coated by a special arrangement of polymers that attract the right proteins to the damaged bone. Some polymers attract proteins and others repel them and the Australian team believe that they have got the right balance so that the new material induces the proteins and hormones needed for the initial inflammatory response that starts the bone regeneration process.

It is hoped to run a patient trial later this year and that this will be a significant move in treating the many patients who are not able to have bone grafts or other treatments to deal with their fractures.


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