Friday, 01 August 2014
masthead+quote+image
Advanced search

Stem cells and plastics combined to heal bones

The use of bone stem cells combined with a degradable rigid material that inserts into broken bones and encourages real bone to re-grow has been developed at the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton.

Researchers are said to have developed the material with a honeycomb scaffold structure that allows blood to flow through it, enabling stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow to attach to the material and grow new bone. Over time, the plastic slowly degrades as the implant is replaced by newly grown bone.

According to a statement, scientists developed the material by blending three types of plastics. They used a technique to blend and test hundreds of combinations of plastics, to identify a blend that was robust, lightweight, and able to support bone stem cells. Successful results have been shown in the lab and in animal testing with the focus now moving towards human clinical evaluation.

The study, published in Advanced Functional Materials, was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

This new discovery is the result of a seven-year partnership between the two universities.

Richard Oreffo, Professor of Musculoskeletal Science at the University of Southampton, said, ‘Fractures and bone loss due to trauma or disease are a significant clinical and socioeconomic problem.

‘This collaboration between chemistry and medicine has identified unique candidate materials that support human bone stem cell growth and allow bone formation. Our collaborative strategy offers significant therapeutic implications.’

Prof Mark Bradley, of Edinburgh University’s School of Chemistry, added, ‘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.

‘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 ageing population.’


Have your say

Mandatory
Mandatory
Mandatory
Mandatory

My saved stories (Empty)

You have no saved stories

Save this article

Digital Edition

The Engineer July Digi Issue

Poll

London Mayor Boris Johnson is lobbying for a £10 additional charge for diesel cars to drive into Central London by 2020, and for road tax on diesel cars and all pre-2006 cars to be increased, to counter air pollution. What option most closely matches your opinion on this?

Previous Poll

Europe's largest tidal array in the Pentand Firth off Orkney will eventually generate up to 86MW of power. What will it take for tidal energy to make an appreciable contribution to the UK's energy needs?

Read and comment on the results here