Dan’s new paper entitled “Adding MgO nanoparticles to hydroxyapatite-PLLA nanocomposites for improved bone tissue engineering applications” was recently featured by the popular materials science website Materials Today. In the article, Dan describes his research on creating a biodegradable, nanocomposite scaffold which could one day help patients regrow new bone. From the article:
“Instead of the current practice of implanting permanent materials to replace [orthopedic] tissues, we believe that biodegradable scaffolds can be loaded with the patient’s own cells and implanted into the affected region,” explains lead author Daniel J. Hickey. “The scaffold degrades at the same rate that the loaded cells and surrounding tissues fill the void by generating their own tissue matrix.”
The new scaffold comprises 20 nm MgO nanoparticles mixed with the biodegradable polymer poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles. Adding MgO increases the stiffness and elasticity of HA-PLLA composites to match more closely the properties of native cancellous bone – the spongy tissue found in the core of vertebrae and at the end of long bones like the thigh (or femur). While varying the size, shape, and concentration of the nanoparticles allows the mechanical properties of the scaffold to be finely tuned. But most significantly of all, the nanoparticles improve the adhesion and proliferation of bone-forming cells (or osteoblasts). In fact, osteoblasts adhered twice as well to scaffolds containing MgO as to plain PLLA samples.
To read the full article in Materials Today, click here.
To read Dan’s paper, published in Acta Biomaterialia, click here.