Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smallest tools could give biggest results in bone repair

07.02.2012
When William Murphy works with some of the most powerful tools in biology, he thinks about making tools that can fit together. These constructions sound a bit like socket wrenches, which can be assembled to turn a half-inch nut in tight quarters, or to loosen a rusted-tight one-inch bolt using a very persuasive lever.

The tools used by Murphy, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics and rehabilitation at University of Wisconsin-Madison, however, are proteins, which are vastly more flexible than socket wrenches -- and roughly 100 million times smaller. One end of his modular tool may connect to bone, while the other end may stimulate the growth of bone, blood vessels or cartilage.

On February 4th and 6th, at the Orthopedic Research Society meeting in San Francisco, Darilis Suarez-Gonzalez and Jae Sung Lee of the Murphy lab are reporting that orthopedic implants "dip-coated" with modular growth factors can stimulate bone and blood vessel growth in sheep.

For many years, medical scientists have been fascinated by growth factors -- proteins that can stimulate tissues to grow. But these factors can be too effective or not specific enough, leading to cancer rather than the controlled growth needed for healing.

Murphy wants to start applying the manifold benefits of the modular approach to healing or regenerating bone, tendon, and ligaments, and in particular to replacement surgery after an artificial joint has loosened or failed. Temporarily stimulating bones to grow by placing growth factors near the new implant could shorten healing time and ensure a good, tight fit.

The approach could also be used for reattaching ligaments to bone after sports injuries and healing large bone defects during spinal fusion, facial reconstruction or trauma. In this work, Murphy collaborates with two associate professors of orthopedics and rehabilitation at the School of Medicine and Public Health. "Ben Graf focuses on knee injuries in sports medicine," he says, "and David Goodspeed, a lieutenant colonel in the Army who has seen blast injuries during multiple tours in Iraq, is working on the kind of major traumatic wound we think is potentially treatable using this approach."

The working end of the modular structure may feature a fragment of a growth factor, but not the entire protein. "Often, you just want the specific regions that activate the signaling pathways, because that can reduce the chances of stimulating unwanted growth, even cancer," he says.

At the other end, Murphy may place an anchoring molecule that binds to the bone and prevents the modular structure from migrating away from the wound.

With the modular approach, he says, "you might be able to stimulate bone formation without the side effects. We are trying to decrease stimulation outside of the bone defect, trying to design these molecules to specifically generate new bone in a defect, and to stay there."

Animal tests, performed in collaboration with Mark Markel, a professor of veterinary medicine, have shown that the bone is denser around the implant, and that the union between the implant and the bone is stronger than produced by state-of-the-art orthopedic techniques. The added growth factors have not been detected elsewhere in the animal, Murphy says.

Engineering each section of the molecule separately allows their properties to be tailored as needed. "We can take similar protein structures and modulate them," Murphy says. "If we want a molecule that binds very strongly to the surface of a bone graft, we can do that. If we want one that releases over controllable time-frames, we can do that as well."

Moving from the lab to the clinic is a major step, and Murphy knows that many hurdles remain. "We have shown that this can work in a large, clinically relevant animal model, but realistically, I don't see this being used in the clinic within the next five years."

Murphy says his approach is inspired by biology without trying to exactly duplicate normal communication between cells and tissues. "We are not interested in specifically mimicking a particular structure or function, but nature uses a variety of fundamental mechanisms during development and regeneration, and we are taking lessons from them and designing synthetic systems to achieve similar outcomes. We are not repeating nature, but we are inspired by nature."

David Tennenbaum, 608-265-8549, djtenenb@wisc.edu

William Murphy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

nachricht Research reveals how order first appears in liquid crystals
23.05.2018 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Research reveals how order first appears in liquid crystals

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Space-like gravity weakens biochemical signals in muscle formation

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

NIST puts the optical microscope under the microscope to achieve atomic accuracy

23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>