Tiny Implants Could Regenerate Bone

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A new implantable device could regenerate cartilage in joints.

Scientists of the German Jena University along with colleagues from France, England, Germany, and Switzerland are designing a tiny device implanted in the joint that is supposed to trigger the regeneration of cartilage produced naturally in the body, according to a press release.

The project OPHIS (Composite Phenotypic Triggers for Bone and Cartilage Repair) is running for four years.

Patients with arthrosis and arthritis will be the most likely to benefit from the work the scientists are doing. The regeneration of the cartilage can be reactivated on smaller lacerations when the doctor recognizes the illnesses early enough.

“Even though there are products like this on the market,” said Prof Dr Frank Müller, Materials Scientist of the Jena University, in a press release. “None of them adheres actively with the bone underneath. This is exactly the improvement of our implant.”

The cellulose implant is one centimeter diameter, sponge-like, and includes two different surfaces. “The implant can substantially adhere to the bone through inorganic activation with calcium phosphate-nanoparticles on its lower surface,” Müller said.

“Scientists of another sub-project in Brighton in England apply growth factors on the opposite, porous surface of the implant to trigger the regeneration and ingrowth of cartilage cells.” Materials scientists of Jena University are able to produce the required porous surfaces with an especially developed process via ice templating. “For that purpose vegetal cellulose is being dissolved in water containing solvent and then deep-frozen at a defined speed,” Müller said. “The ice crystals are so grown at a controllable temperature gradient. Afterwards the cellulose is being freeze-dried, so that little holes — pores – take the place of the ice cristals, as the water is being changed from a solid to a gaseous aggregate state. So a micro porous surface is created according to a given specification.”

Composites from cellulose and collagen are also being tested. These composites are even more promising, as the structural protein collagen is an important organic part of the connective tissue and thereby also of the bone and cartilage.

The study focus is partly on providing results that will help in targeting osteoporosis. The tiny implants are designed to stop the bone loss and trigger bone growth. These implants consist of bacterial cellulose, which is developed in cooperation with the research group of Dr Dana Kralisch at the Institute for Technical Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry at the Jena University.

Source: Institute of Materials Science and Technology, Jena University

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Could this study prove to be a break through in treating arthritis? What are your thoughts on project OPHIS?

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