Researchers at King’s College London have devised a bandage that speeds healing in the case of serious fractures. It is applied like a plaster and is made with a biomaterial based on stem cells, which remain active and alive for weeks. Applying it directly to the bones allows faster reconstruction, reducing the risk of complications.
“Our technology,” explains the study coordinator, Shukry Habib, “is the first one that in less than a week engineers a tissue similar to bone from human stem cells in the laboratory and then successfully transplants it into the defective bone to initiate and accelerate repair. The 3D engineered tissue and patch concept has the potential to be used in a variety of damaged tissues and organs.
The first bone bandage tests have been successfully performed on the skulls of mice and we will move on to the experimental phase in humans.
The “bone patch” is covered with a collagen gel and can be produced from biodegradable material.
The chemical composition includes stem cells (master cells), which can transform into any type of tissue or organ, and mature bone cells.
The cells are coated with a special protein used throughout the body to stimulate growth and repair; the material is covered with a 3D collagen gel that envelops and supports the cells throughout the healing process. In addition, the patch can also be produced with a biodegradable material that is reabsorbed after repair.
Dr. Habib said: “This bandage can be attached to the fracture like a plaster and improve the natural ability of the bone to heal, which speeds up the repair process.
This new device overcomes problems resulting from transplantation with bone taken from other parts of the body or synthetic material. In fact, success with this type of solution is conditioned by the body’s ability to heal, which in some cases is more compromised.
As Dr Habib explains: “The process of healing from a severe fracture can be slow or may even fail in vulnerable patients such as the elderly or those with basic health conditions.
Therapy with this type of stem cell would have the advantage of keeping the ability to reconstruct cells alive, while other therapies have shown a limit in the life span of the cells applied to fractures.
The study is published in Nature Materials.