An innovative technology developed at Tel Aviv University will enable bone regeneration to correct large bone defects by means of a special hydrogel. After successful testing in an animal model, the researchers are now planning to move on to clinical trials.
The groundbreaking study was conducted by experts from TAU’s Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dentistry, led by Prof. Lihi Adler-Abramovich and Dr. Michal Halperin-Sternfeld, in collaboration with Prof. Itzhak Binderman, the Dr. Rachel Sarig, Dr. Moran Aviv, and researchers from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The document was published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.
Prof. Adler-Abramovich: “Small bone defects, such as fractures, heal spontaneously, with the body restoring lost bone tissue. The problem starts with large bone defects. In many cases, when significant bone loss results from the tumor resection (removal by surgery), physical trauma, tooth extraction, gum disease or inflammation around dental implants, the bone is unable to renew itself.In the present study, we developed a hydrogel that mimics natural substances bone extracellular matrix, stimulating bone growth and reactivating the immune system to accelerate the healing process.”
The researchers explain that the extracellular matrix is the substance surrounding our cells, providing them with structural support. Each type of tissue in our body has a specific extracellular matrix composed of appropriate substances with the right mechanical properties. The new hydrogel has a fibrillar structure that mimics that of the extracellular matrix of natural bone. In addition, it is rigid, allowing the patient’s cells to differentiate into bone-forming cells.
“As you would expect, the extracellular matrix of our bones is quite rigid,” says Professor Adler-Abramovich. “In our study, we produced a hydrogel that mimics this specific matrix in chemical and physical properties. At the nanoscale, the cell can attach to the gel, gain structural support, and receive relevant mechanical signals from the fibers. At first, To test these properties, we cultured cells in a 3D model of the gel. Next, we examined the impact of the hydrogel on model animals with large bone defects that could not heal spontaneously. We followed them for two months with various methods, including Micro CT To our delight, the bone defects were fully corrected through regeneration, with the bones returning to their original thickness and generating new blood vessels.”
According to Professor Adler-Abramovich, the innovative gel has many clinical applications in orthopedic and dental medicine: “When we lose teeth due to severe damage or bacterial infections, the standard treatment is dental implants. Implants, however , must be anchored in a sufficient amount of bone, and when bone loss is too great, doctors implant additional bone from a healthy part of the body – a complex medical procedure.Another option is to add bone substitutes of human or animal origin, but these can generate an immune system. I hope that in the future, the hydrogel we have developed will allow faster, safer and easier bone restoration.
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