The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is soliciting proposals to develop a “fracture putty” material that would be used for quickly repairing broken bones while providing cast-like support for the fracture.
DARPA wants to develop a dynamic, putty-like material which, when packed in/around a compound bone fracture, provides full load-bearing capabilities within days, creates an osteoconductive bone-like internal structure, and degrades over time to harmless resorbable by-products as normal bone regenerates. The agency believes that a successful “Fracture Putty” could rapidly restore a patient to ambulatory function while normal healing ensues, with dramatically reduced rehabilitation time and the elimination of infection and secondary fractures.
Potential solutions for Fracture Putty could involve novel bioresorbable adhesives that bond preferentially to bone rather than to soft tissues, that have bone-like mechanical properties, and work in the wet biological environment; load-bearing biomaterials with high mechanical strength and high porosity that match the mechanical properties of bone; biomaterials that create hierarchical bone-like internal structure; and biomaterials that adapt to biochemical cues. Mathematical models for dynamically remodeling systems with complex stimuli will also be necessary to achieve Fracture Putty’s development.
Press release: DARPA SOLICITS PROPOSALS TO DEVELOP “FRACTURE PUTTY” (PDF)