Nanopaste offers new way to repair bone defects
28th May 2013
A significant number of people who use customised stairlifts do so because of bone problems, one of the most useful ways to manage mobility difficulties caused by these defects. A recent study has now given hope towards the creation of a treatment for bones which could be just as helpful as stairlifts are.
Researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) in Germany believe that they have managed to create a nanopaste which can repair bone defects. This could revolutionise the repair of damaged or ill-formed bones for both patients and surgeons, resulting in less stress overall for the body and less complex and potentially risky surgery.
Matthias Epple, professor for inorganic chemistry at UDE, and his team have been working towards the production of "new biomaterials" after researching the impact of mineral tissue for a number of years. Using knowledge gained from studying teeth, bone and seashells, they have managed to create a bone repair paste that can replace real bone.
Currently, surgeons collect bone from various locations in the body to alleviate the problems of bone defects, but there is "a limited amount of surplus bone material" in the body so a number of synthetic materials are frequently used instead. The use of synthetic materials to repair bone defects does have some drawbacks however; there is greater risk of infection, bones take longer to heal and the "mechanical stability" is imperfect.
To rectify these problems, Professor Epple and his team have created a bone repair paste, consisting of synthetic calcium phosphate nanocrystals that are coated with nucleic acids, otherwise known as DNA. He recommended the use of calcium phosphate in particular as it is already familiar to the body, making it a suitable carrier, and improves new bone formation. When the paste is injected into a bone defect, the calcium phosphate dissolves and the released DNA stimulates the formation of BMP-7 and VEGF-A, two proteins that are important for healing. The newly formed bone is supplied with valuable nutrients by these two proteins, with the former stimulating bone formation and the latter aiding in the creation of new blood vessels.
One of the main benefits of the bone repair paste is its longevity; the nanoparticles are released successively, enabling the surrounding cells to be continually stimulated.
This bone repair paste could significantly improve the lives of those who rely on recliner chairs due to having problematic bone defects, particularly as Professor Epple believes that it will be widely used to treat osteoporosis and in the field of emergency trauma medicine within a few years.
Image Credit: sanberdoo (flickr.com)
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