At a glance 1 min

Plastics heal fractures

Plastics heal fractures
Plastics heal fractures

A new plastic composite could be the future of bone repair therapies. The rigid material temporarily replaces the broken bone. Its biocompatibility enables stem cells to attach to it and regenerate the damaged tissue. It is also biodegradable and will slowly degrade over time to be replaced by newly grown bone …
After seven years of work, researchers at Southampton University and Edinburgh University have announced that they have developed a plastic polymer offering therapeutic properties.

The challenge was not an easy one to achieve. Their aim was to develop a compound which could help  bone healing following a fracture or assist in bone regeneration for people with osteoporosis or arthritis.

After having tested hundreds of combinations of plastics, the scientists finally came across a good compromise: a biocompatible material which is sufficiently rigid and robust to replace the missing bone, and which then acts as a scaffold structure enabling stem cells from the patient's blood to attach to the material in order to regenerate the damaged tissue. Once the bone has started to form, the plastic begins to degrade to facilitate optimal healing over time.
The material was developed by blending three types of plastics, including the polycarbonate used in CDs, for instance. It is relatively cheap and can be rapidly produced, which makes its wide-scale use a plausible reality.

The aim now is to test the bioplastic in clinical trials in order to gauge its safety and efficacy on humans.

More information
www.southampton.ac.uk

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love the next!
  • An exoskeleton for skiers
    At a glance 1 min
    An exoskeleton for skiers

    If you have knee problems or lack physical conditioning and don't want to abandon skiing, the e ski-mojo, the first exoskeleton designed for skiing is for you! Ski-Mojo, based in La Clusaz (France)...

  • A polymer retina
    At a glance 1 min
    A polymer retina

    An Italian research team, from the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, has shown that a photovoltaic polymer can restore light-sensing capabilities to damaged retinas, offering hope of a simple ...

  • Sex, plastics and libido…
    Daily life 5 min
    Sex, plastics and libido…

    First associated with the purely medical side of sex, the plastics industry has nevertheless been able to keep up with changes in social mores without sacrificing health-related requirements....