Novel bio-technique can help regenerate bones too

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WASHINGTON - Nature has provided the lizard with a unique ability to regrow body tissue that is damaged or torn; if its tail is pulled off, it grows right back. A bio-technique developed by Tel Aviv University (TAU) might be able to do something similar, helping humans replace lost or missing bones and damaged tissues.

Meital Zilberman, professor of biomedical engineering at TAU, has developed a new biologically active “scaffold” made from soluble fibers, which may help humans replace lost or missing bone.

With more research, she says, it could also serve as the basic technology for regenerating other types of human tissues, including muscle, arteries, and skin.

“The bioactive agents that spur bone and tissue to regenerate are available to us. The problem is that no technology has been able to effectively deliver them to the tissue surrounding that missing bone,” says Zilberman.

Her artificial and flexible scaffolding connects tissues together as it releases growth-stimulating drugs to the place where new bone or tissue is needed; like the scaffolding that surrounds an existing building when additions to that building are made.

Scientific peer-reviewed research on this scaffold fibre has appeared in a number of journals, including Acta Biomaterialia, and is currently being licensed through Ramot, TAU’s technology transfer company.

The invention, which has not been named yet, could be used to restore missing bone in a limb lost in an accident, or repair receded jawbones necessary to secure dental implants, says Zilberman.

The scaffold can be shaped so the bone will grow into the proper form. After a period of time, the fibres can be programmed to dissolve, leaving no trace, says a TAU release.

Zilberman’s technology also has potential uses in cosmetic surgery. Instead of silicon implants to square the chin or raise cheekbones, the technology can be used to “grow your own” cheekbones or puffy lips.

Filed under: World

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