Plastic Scaffold Helps Regenerate Bone

English scientists have found what they claim is a perfect blend of plastic material that could lead to bone regeneration for older people or those who have significant bone fractures.

The research conducted by British scientists resulted in a honeycomb scaffold plastic scaffoldstructure porous enough to allow blood to flow through it. This blood flow enables stem cells from a patient’s bone marrow to attach to the scaffold and grow new bone cells, according to a press release from the University of Southampton.

The scaffold is composed of a biomedical implantable polycarbonate plastic, the scientists say, and it is used in a variety of items, from bulletproof windows to CDs. Scientists created a nanotopographical pattern on the plastic that funnels the embryonic stem cells toward the bone cells.

The researchers believe that the plastic used is a cheaper alternative of culturing embryonic stem cells. The scaffold slowly decomposes as the new bone grows.

Scaffolds are a relatively new development in medical research. They have applications in regenerating connective tissue, replacing blood vessels, and healing damaged tissue.

“To generate bone cells for regenerative medicine and further medical research remains a significant challenge,” says Professor Richard Oreffo, who led the research team at the University of Southampton. “However we have found that by harnessing surface technologies that allow the generation and ultimately scale up of human embryonic stem cells to skeletal cells, we can aid the tissue engineering process. This is very exciting.”

Not only should the innovation help those who have suffered bone trauma, but it could also aid those who need hip replacement surgery because of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. “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,” says Professor Mark Bradley of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry in Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence.

The researchers also believe that the development offers new opportunities for medical research in this area in the future. “Our research may offer a whole new approach to skeletal regenerative medicine,” Oreffo says. “The use of nanotopographical patterns could enable new cell culture designs, new device designs, and could herald the development of new bone repair therapies as well as further human stem cell research.”

Source: “Stem cell breakthrough could lead to new bone repair therapies on nanoscale surfaces,” University of Southampton, 2/11/13
Source: “Artificial bone scaffold combines stem cells and plastic to heal broken bones,” Kurzweil Artificial Intelligence, 2/11/13
Image by Raul654.