Chemists at the University of Helsinki have created a method of using nanofibers and thin-film biomaterials as orthopedic scaffolds to help regenerate bones and to help implants settle into their new home. The nanofibers are made of electrospun hydroxyapatite, a naturally occuring mineral form of calcium apatite.
Bone is a fibrous nanocomposite material with a complex hierarchical system of different macro-, micro- and nanostructures. The structure elegantly supports the bone cell functions and facilitates bone remodeling by cellular activity. Injuries and diseases, e.g. osteoporosis, can cause bone fractures and loss that need to be treated with orthopedic implants.
In future, it may be possible to use nanofibres to improve the attachment of bone implants, or the fibres may be used directly to scaffold bone regeneration. This would aid the healing of fractures and may enable the care of osteoporosis. This is detailed in a new dissertation.
In his doctoral research, Jani Holopainen of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Helsinki has developed processes for fibrous and thin-film biomaterials that can be used as scaffolding for bone regeneration and in other bone impants. He also studied the apparatus used for nanofibre production.
SYNTHETIC BONE-LIKE MATERIAL
– At best, bone-reforming scaffolds that regenerate at the same rate as bones could be used as implants. The scaffolds activate the bone cells to generate new bone that slowly replaces the disintegrating scaffold and the impant exits the body naturally without separate removal surgery, Jani Holopainen says.