To repair the most serious fractures comes the 'living patch' based on stem cells: once applied to the broken bone it allows the settlement of human stem cells, which remain alive and active for weeks in order to produce new bone.
The device, tested in mice, accelerated healing by reducing the risk of complications and infections.
The findings, which could pave the way for human experimentation, are published in the journal Nature Materials by researchers from King's College London.
"Our technology - explains the coordinator of the study, Shukry Habib - is the first that in less than a week engineers a bone-like tissue in the laboratory starting from human stem cells, to then successfully transplant it into the defective bone in a way to initiate and accelerate the repair. The 3D engineered tissue and patch concept has the potential to be used in various damaged tissues and organs. "
The most serious bone fractures have been the forerunners because for some time new solutions are being studied to overcome current therapies, which involve transplanting bone taken from other parts of the body or implanting synthetic material: in both cases the success is affected by the body's healing capabilities, which can be weakened in vulnerable individuals as well as after a serious accident.
Cell therapies (which bring 'reinforcement' from the outside) look very promising, but they present a problem: the cells that are transferred into the fracture often die and fail to provide the necessary support to the healing bone.
For this reason the new 'living patch' developed in London was made with a biomaterial enriched with a protein that accelerates growth and repair, and was coated with a 3D collagen gel that envelops and supports cells during the whole healing process.
The patch can also be made with a biodegradable material so that it resorbs after repair.