The majority of bone implants, cements, and grafts are hard objects that don’t always work well in filling the space they’re supposed to inhabit. Soft objects can gently expand and relocate their mass evenly over a volume, and they tent to be less dense so as to leave room for cells to make home inside of.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia and McMaster University in Canada have just reportred on a plant cellulose-based bone scaffolds that can be injected into areas of damage. The material allows native tissue cells to invade into its interior and to propagate. Eventually, because it is biodegradable, the material itself disappears and only the body’s own tissue remains.
The scaffolding is made by linking nanocrystals taken from plant cellulose, which create strings of very strong material. This leads to a spongy overall result that is extremely compressable and which pops back outward when released.
The material was tried on lab rats and was shown to improve bone growth by up to 50% compared to untreated animals.
“Most bone graft or implants are made of hard, brittle ceramic that doesn’t always conform to the shape of the hole, and those gaps can lead to poor growth of the bone and implant failure,” said study author Daniel Osorio, a PhD student in chemical engineering at McMaster. “We created this cellulose nanocrystal aerogel as a more effective alternative to these synthetic materials.”
Study in journal Acta Biomaterialia: Cross-linked cellulose nanocrystal aerogels as viable bone tissue scaffolds…