Accelerated Broken Bone Healing With New Implant

First Posted: Feb 11, 2013 02:25 PM EST

Researchers made a degradable plastic implant that accelerates the healing of broken bones by guiding blood with the bodies stem cells to the required places where they attach to the implant and grow new bone. The honeycomb scaffold structure allows an optimal blood flow which enables the stem cells from the patient's bone marrow to attach to the material and grow new bone, which slowly replaces the self-degrading plastic of the implant.

The researchers at Edinburgh and Southampton universities used a pioneering technique to blend and test hundreds of combinations of plastics to find the perfect blend of materials, now a blend of three types of plastics, that was robust, lightweight, and able to support the attachment of bone stem cells.

“We were able to make and look at a hundreds of candidate materials and rapidly whittle these down to one which is strong enough to replace bone and is also a suitable surface upon which to grow new bone," said Professor Mark Bradley, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry.

The research is now already moving towards human clinical evaluation after getting successful results in the lab and in animal testing,

"We are confident that this material could soon be helping to improve the quality of life for patients with severe bone injuries, and will help maintain the health of an aging population," said Professor Mark Bradley of the University of Edinburgh's School of Chemistry.

The study was funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Ferdous Khan et al., Discovery and Evaluation of a Functional Ternary Polymer Blend for Bone Repair: Translation from a Microarray to a Clinical Model, Advanced Functional Materials, 2013, DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201202710

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