Researchers at IISC developing plastic-like material for bone grafts

Researchers at IISC developing plastic-like material for bone grafts

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) are focusing on developing a synthetic polymer (like plastic) that can be used as a substitute for bone grafting.

A wide variety of natural and synthetic polymers are used in biomedical applications today. But in the case of bone, these plastics may be too soft and lack other properties to help in regeneration.

The IISc researchers set out to find a method to enhance the biomedical properties of these polymers so that they could have orthopaedic applications. They prepared polymer composites using a biodegradable polyester incorporating nanoparticles and found that the resultant material to be non-toxic and anti-bacterial.

The research is being carried out at the Biomaterial and Tissue Engineering Laboratory and is being headed by Dr Kaushik Chatterjee of the Department of Materials Engineering. “Bone is one of the most widely transplanted tissues of the human body. Currently, bone grafts used in the clinic have several problems like high cost, occasional infections, the need for multiple surgeries. We are working towards using plastics or synthetic polymers to solve this clinical challenge,” said Dr Sachin Kumar, a former PhD student and one of the authors of the study.    

In addition to being suitable for bone grafts, the composite material has electrical conductivity, a property that could make it useful in designing biodegradable electronic components.

While the results may be positive, more work needs to be done. Dr Chatterjee said, “These studies need more detailed validation, especially tests in animal models, before human trials. We are progressing towards the clinical use of such technologies as new alternatives for repairing and regenerating damaged tissues and organs of the human body that could eventually help bridge the demand-supply gap of donor organs,” he said.

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