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Intelligent nanocomposite for bone tissue repair and regeneration

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Repairing bones with nanomaterials

Around half a million people in the EU need treatment for serious skeletal defects every year. New research on bone tissue and repair promises to overcome inherent problems when a large bone graft is required.


Therapy of large bone defects caused by cancer, degenerative diseases, accidents or congenital defects requires a bone graft capable of supplying similar physical properties and behaviour to the bone being substituted. Most commercial scaffolds developed to date do not promote bone regeneration fast enough to avoid vascular insult of the implant to the bone. Moreover, they do not provide mechanical properties that match that of healthy bone. The EU-funded ' Intelligent nanocomposite for bone tissue repair and regeneration' (Nanobiocom) project succeeded in developing a new intelligent material to satisfy the challenges presented by reconstruction of large defects. The main objectives included optimisation of osteoblast (cells for bone formation) activation and to develop a scaffold with mechanical properties similar to bone that allows nutrient transport and biorecognition. Nanobiocom developed an intelligent material made of bioactive components – nanoparticles, carbon nanotubules and polymers. The material activates osteoprogenitor cells and genes to promote tissue growth adjacent to the implant. Moreover, the scaffold possesses load-bearing properties sufficient for bone and cartilage due to the reinforcement properties of the materials making up the composite. An added piece of research delved into the genetic programming required for bone regeneration. Future research into novel materials for bone repair will depend on being able to harness natural genetic control of the process. Results of the Nanobiocom project are making the prospect of regeneration of a large bone graft with similar physical properties and behaviour to bone a reality. Clinical applications for the new material are particularly likely as there is no sign of toxicity from the composite.

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