Breakthrough discovery could speed up bone implant recovery

An international research team led by Monash University has uncovered a new technique that could speed up recovery from bone replacements reportedly by altering the shape and nucleus of individual stem cells.

Published in Advanced Science the study saw researchers develop micropillar arrays using UV nanoimprint lithography that could essentially ‘trick’ the stem cells to become bone.

Reportedly, nanoimprint lithography allows for the creation of microscale patterns with low cost, high throughput and high resolution.

When implanted into the body as part of a bone replacement procedure, such as a hip or knee, the researchers found these pillars – which are said to be 10 times smaller than the width of a human hair – changed the shape, nucleus and genetic material inside stem cells.

Not only was the research team able to define the topography of the pillar sizes and the effects it had on stem cells, but they discovered four times as much bone could be produced compared to current methods.

According to Associate Professor Jessica Firth from Monash University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, with further testing, these results mean that “we can speed up the process of locking bone replacements with surrounding tissue, in addition to reducing the risks of infection”.

“We’ve also been able to determine what form these pillar structures take and what size they need to be in order to facilitate the changes to each stem cell, and select once that works best for application,” says Associate Professor Firth.

Researchers are now reportedly advancing this study into animal model testing to see how they perform on medical implants.

To read the study, visit: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/advs.202003186

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