Washington: Indian-origin scientists have developed a revolutionary new bio patch which can regrow missing or damaged bones from within the body.
Researchers at the University of Iowa created the bio patch to regenerate bones by putting DNA into a nano-sized particle that delivers bone-producing instructions directly into cells.
The bone-regeneration kit relies on a collagen platform seeded with particles containing the genes needed for producing bone.
In experiments, the gene-encoding bio patch successfully regrew bone fully enough to cover skull wounds in test animals. It also stimulated new growth in human bone marrow stromal cells in lab experiments.
The study is novel in that the researchers directly delivered bone-producing instructions - using piece of DNA that encodes for a platelet-derived growth factor called PDGF-B - to existing bone cells in vivo, allowing those cells to produce the proteins that led to more bone production.
"We delivered the DNA to the cells, so that the cells produce the protein and that's how the protein is generated to enhance bone regeneration," said Aliasger Salem, co-corresponding author on the paper.
The researchers believe the patch could be used to rebuild bone in the gum area that serves as the concrete-like foundation for dental implants.
That prospect would be a "life-changing experience" for patients who need implants and don't have enough bone in the surrounding area, said Satheesh Elangovan, joint first author, as well as co-corresponding author, on the paper.
It also can be used to repair birth defects where there's missing bone around the head or face.
"We can make a scaffold in the actual shape and size of the defect site, and you'd get complete regeneration to match the shape of what should have been there," Elangovan said.
The team loaded the bio patch with synthetically created plasmids, each of which is outfitted with the genetic instructions for producing bone.
They then inserted the scaffold on to a 5 by 2mm missing area of skull in test animals. Four weeks later, the team compared the bio patch's effectiveness to inserting a scaffold with no plasmids or taking no action at all.
The plasmid-seeded bio patch grew 44-times more bone and soft tissue in the affected area than with the scaffold alone, and was 14-fold higher than the affected area.
"The most exciting part to me is that we were able to develop an efficacious, nonviral-based gene-delivery system for treating bone loss," said Sheetal D'mello, a graduate student in pharmacy and a joint first author on the paper.
The study was published in the journal Biomaterials.