McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member, Newell Washburn, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), along with fellow CMU researchers report they have developed hyaluronic hydrogels that can provide scaffolding for growth of bone cells. The researcher trio behind this creation—Drs. Washburn, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, and Jeffrey Hollinger—says their hydrogels have already shown promising results in encouraging the growth of preosteoblast cells, cells that aid the growth and development of bone.
Currently, physicians are able to treat patients with damaged bone tissue, like those who have bone fractures that fail to heal, using demineralized bone matrix, a biological material obtained from cadavers. Demineralized bone matrix is rich in growth factor proteins which signal bone cells in the area to multiply and form complex bone tissue, while other proteins in the matrix regulate the activity of the growth factors. Demineralized bone matrix is in limited supply, and because it comes from a human donor, there is a risk of transmitting viruses to the recipient.
“Tissue engineering is an exciting field. We’re creating solutions to problems that can significantly impact people’s quality of life. These gels have great promise in not only regenerating bone, but serving as a gene therapy delivery system,” said Dr. Washburn.
As reported by the Thaindian News, the researchers revealed they created a flexible hydrogel using biologically active and degradable hyaluronic acid. In lab experiments, the hydrogels promoted cell proliferation, differentiation, and mineralization of pre-osteoblast cells. Further research by the group created a hybrid hydrogel that incorporated a nanogel structure. The researchers revealed that the new hydrogel promotes the differentiation of cells, much like the hyaluronic acid gel, while also releasing nanogels in a controlled and targeted manner. They hope that this structure could be used to partner tissue engineering with gene therapy.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Carnegie Mellon University Press Release (08/18/08)
Thaindian News (08/18/08)
Abstract (The 236th ACS National Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, 1:30 PM-5:05 PM, Sunday, August 17, 2008)
The Washburn Group, CMU
Newell R. Washburn , PhD