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S & T

Updated: October 21, 2009 19:12 IST

Scientists develop 'scaffold' to regenerate lost or damaged bones, tissues

ANI
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Titanium Bone plates hold together fractured bones, developed at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) in New Delhi. File Photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu Titanium Bone plates hold together fractured bones, developed at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) in New Delhi. File Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Lizard has a unique ability to re-grow body tissue that is damaged or torn. If its tail is pulled off, it grows right back. It’s an impressive feat, and one that humans are quite incapable of. Now, researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a new technology meant to aide the human body in growing new bone. One of the largest hurdles in tissue engineering is the development of bone, which requires certain chemical signals to grow. While researches have long known what these signals are, they have yet to be able to deliver them in a way that leads to proper bone growth.

TAU researchers have developed a flexible scaffolding of soluble fibres that promote the growth by trapping the growth-stimulating drugs within the scaffold, preventing them from being metabolized too quickly by the body, and holding them in specific locations to dictate the growth pattern of the new bone.

While the technology is far from being ready to test in human subjects, the scientists predict that the technology could be used at first to grow new bone for dental implants. Further developments could eventually allow the technology to be adapted for cosmetic surgeries, allowing patients to grow their own implants.

“Our fibres provide all the advantages that clinicians in tissue regeneration are calling for. Being thin, they’re ideal when delicate scaffolds are called for. But they can also be the basic building blocks of bones and tissues when bigger structures are needed,” Professor Meital Zilberman of TAU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering said.

Further research will be aimed at growing new types of tissues, and eventually developing complete sets of tissues. We may never be able to grow a new arm on our own, but science may give us a way in the future. The study has appeared in the journal Acta Biomaterialia.

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