Engineered Cartilage Template can Heal Broken Bones

Researchers have engineered cartilage template that can heal broken bones, according to a study conducted on March 8, 2018.

Bones in our body form and grow with the help of two processes known as intramembranous (IO) and endochondral ossification (EO). Flat bones are formed by IO and long bones such as femurs and humeri are formed by EO. To trigger the growth of new bone, both these processes need generic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). As a solution to the problems associated with IO, an engineered extracellular matrix that use hydrogels were developed by the UConn Health team. This engineered matrix was capable of guiding and supporting the formation of bone through EO.

Nukavarapu, who holds joint appointments in the departments of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering at University of Connecticut said, “Thus far, very few studies have been focused on matrix designs for endochondral ossification to regenerate and repair long bone.” The successful vascularization of bone regenerated with IO still remains a challenge. Due to the development of a cartilage template, chondrocyte hypertrophy, and eventual bone tissue formation, vascularization is a natural outcome of EO.

Precise spatial and temporal coordination of different elements are the requirements of EO. Two materials known as fibrin and hyaluronan were combined by the researchers to achieve a delicate balance in the lab. This research is still in its early phase and holds promise for future innovations. The development of cartilage templates suitable for long-bone defect repair is the next plan of the researchers.

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