Source : http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/2422/injectable-liquid-bone-developed
SYDNEY: 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.
Stimulate tissue repair
Quirk told Cosmos Online that the next generation of technologies based on this method will focus more on the therapeutic drugs and growth factors that can be delivered alongside the injectable bone to stimulate tissue repair.
The idea of bone cement has been considered for some years and similar compounds are being trialed in Australia, commented Bruce Foster, an orthopaedic surgeon and chairman of the Australian Bone Growth Foundation in Adelaide. Another "new product capable of delivering stem cells is undergoing trials in Melbourne," he said.
The British team behind the injectable bone won the Medical Futures Innovation Award last week and are now working towards clinical trials. They expect the product to be available in the U.S. within 18 months.