Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researcher Creating Shape-Shifting Material Geared For Correcting Facial Defects

06.10.2014

A newly developed material that molds itself to fill gaps in bone while promoting bone growth could more effectively treat defects in the facial region, says a Texas A&M University researcher who is creating the shape-shifting material.

The research by Melissa Grunlan, associate professor in the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, is detailed in the scientific journal “Acta Biomaterialia.” Working with colleagues at Texas A&M and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Grunlan has created a polymer foam that is malleable after treating with warm saline, allowing it to precisely fill a bone defect before hardening into a porous, sponge-like scaffold that promotes new bone formation.


Texas A&M University

The polymer foam scaffold has interconnected pores that allow bone cells to migrate into the area and begin healing damaged tissue.

The team envisions the material as a treatment for cranio-maxillofacial bone defects – gaps in bone occurring in the head, face or jaw areas. These defects, which can dramatically alter a person’s appearance, can be caused by injuries, birth defects such as cleft palates or surgical procedures such as the removal of tumors, Grunlan says.

In order to repair these defects, the polymer foam developed by Grunlan her team acts as a scaffold, a temporary structure that supports the damaged area while promoting healing by allowing bone cells to migrate into the area and repair the damage tissue. Ultimately, the scaffold dissolves, leaving behind new bone tissue, she explains.

“Try as hard as we do to create artificial materials to replace damaged or diseased tissues, it is nearly impossible to match the properties of native, healthy tissue – and so the whole idea behind tissue engineering is that if we can restore native-like, healthy tissue, that will be better than any artificial replacement,” Grunlan said.

“A problem,” she adds, “is directing that process in these areas where there is a critical bone defect. In these types of instances where large gaps exist the body doesn’t have the ability to heal the defect with new bone tissue growth; we have to help it along, and that is what our material is designed to do.”

Key to Grunlan’s material is its malleability after brief exposure to warm saline (140 degrees Fahrenheit), allowing surgeons to easily mold the material to fill irregularly shaped gaps in bone. Once a defect is filled, the material cools to body temperature and resumes its stiff texture, locking itself in place, she says.

This self-fitting aspect of the material gives it a significant edge over autografting, the most common treatment for these types of bone defects, Grunlan notes. Autografting involves harvesting bone from elsewhere in the body, such as the hip, and then arduously shaping it to fit the bone defect.

In addition to its obvious limited availability, the bone harvested through autografting is very rigid, making it difficult to shape and resulting in a lack of contact between the graft and the surrounding tissue, Grunlan says. When this occurs, complications can arise. For example, a graft can inadvertently dissolve through a process known as graft resorption, leaving behind the defect, she says.

Another therapy involves filling the defect with bone putty, but that material can be brittle once it hardens, and it lacks the pores necessary for bone cells to move into the area and repair the tissue, Grunlan notes.

By tweaking the polymer scaffold through a chemical process that bonds individual molecular chains, Grunlan and her team overcame that issue and produced a sponge-like material with interconnected pores.

They also coated the material with a bioactive substance that helps lock it into place by inducing formation of a mineral that is found in bone, she adds. The coating, Grunlan explains, help osteoblasts – the cells that produce bone – to adhere and spread throughout the polymer scaffold. Think of it as a sort of “boost” to the material’s healing properties.

Thus far, the results have been promising; after only three days the coated material had grown about five times more osteoblasts than uncoated versions of the same material, Grunlan says. In addition, the osteoblasts present within the scaffold produced more of the proteins critical for new bone formation. The team plans to continue studying the material’s ability to heal cranio-maxillofacial bone defects by moving testing into preclinical and clinical studies.

Media contact: Melissa Grunlan, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, at (979) 845-2406 or via email: mgrunlan@tamu.edu, or Ryan A. Garcia at (979) 847-5833 or via email: ryan.garcia99@tamu.edu.

For more news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamutimes.tamu.edu/

Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TAMU

Melissa Grunlan | newswise
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells
11.12.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires
07.12.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gecko adhesion technology moves closer to industrial uses

13.12.2017 | Information Technology

Columbia engineers create artificial graphene in a nanofabricated semiconductor structure

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Research reveals how diabetes in pregnancy affects baby's heart

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>