Biological cements to repair ‘burst fractures’ of the spine are being developed and tested in a major new collaborative project between Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Leeds. The team has been awarded just under £500,000 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop and examine the effects of novel cement materials for the treatment of burst fractures.
Bone cements, similar to those used in joint replacement surgery, are already being used to strengthen damaged vertebrae of patients with diseases such as osteoporosis, in a procedure known as vertebroplasty, but ‘burst fractures’ to the spine, injuries often sustained in major impact accidents and falls, are much more difficult to treat. They account for over 1,000 emergency NHS admissions each year and often require highly complex, invasive surgery and a long stay in hospital.
To be able to use bone cements for burst fractures would be a major leap forward. It would be simpler, quicker and much less invasive for the patient, reducing both recovery times and NHS costs.
The project team at Queen’s has expertise in developing and testing synthetic biomaterials for the repair of bone defects. Dr Fraser Buchanan of the School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering said: “These materials can be delivered to the fracture site by injection and mimic the chemical composition of bone itself.”
Dr Ruth Wilcox of Leeds University Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, said: “This type of fracture causes the vertebra to burst apart and in severe cases fragments of bone can be pushed into the spinal cord. Surgeons may be able to join bone fragments together and stabilize the spine with the use of metal screws and rods, but patients with these injuries are often in a really bad way, so the less invasive the treatment, the better.”
Dr Buchanan added: “Clearly we need to develop biomaterials that more closely match the properties of real bone and this project offers the perfect opportunity to use the range of complimentary skills of this grouping to predict the effects of newly developed cements and even incorporate biological agents to assist the body’s own healing process.”
“This study demonstrates the significant benefits of working in a multidisciplinary team within Queen’s. In this case between the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the School of Medicine and Dentistry, to address issues relating to tissue repair and regeneration.”
Statistically, burst fractures are seen more in younger people, and not enough is currently known about the long term consequences of using existing cements for the treatment of this type of injury. There is evidence to show that some patients with osteoporosis, who tend to be older, can develop fractures in the vertebrae adjacent to those treated with vertebroplasty.
“We think this may be because current cements are stiffer than the bone itself causing an imbalance in the way the spine bears weight. This may increase loading on the neighbouring vertebrae, which can lead to further damage,” said Dr Wilcox.
At Leeds the team has expertise in computational modelling of the spine and will be able to provide Queen’s with data to assist in the development of novel biomaterials and to simulate how they will perform in patients.
Lisa Mitchell | alfa
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences