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UMMS biomedical researchers develop more reliable, less expensive synthetic graft material
Date:10/22/2010

WORCESTER, Mass. With a failure rate as high as 50 percent, bone tissue grafts pose a significant obstacle to orthopedic surgeons attempting to repair complex fractures or large areas of bone loss, such as those often caused by trauma and cancer. Current synthetic substitutes rarely possess the bone-like properties needed for successful grafting and are often difficult for surgeons to manipulate in the operating room. In response to these challenges, researchers at UMass Medical School have developed an easy-to-produce, inexpensive, synthetic bone material called FlexBone.

Building upon previous development of a material that combines a key mineral found in bone (nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite) with a hydrogel similar to that used in contact lenses, Jie Song, PhD, assistant professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation and cell biology, and a team of graduate students and orthopedic surgeons, along with their collaborators at the University of Michigan, have created a bone substitute that can be press-fit into a bony lesion.

"Functionally sophisticated synthetic materials don't have to be complicated to manufacture or difficult to reproduce," said Dr. Song. "Our idea was to create an inexpensive, off-the-shelf product that can be easily manipulated in the operating room to fill large bone voids and facilitate the tissue repair." Research published online ahead of print in Tissue Engineering Part A describes the efficacy of the FlexBone as a synthetic bone substitute in repairing large bone defects in animal models.

In large, complex bone voids caused by trauma or tumor removal, stabilization with traditional metal plates and other internal and external fixation devices often isn't enough to facilitate healing. In many cases, surgeons turn to bone tissue grafts to bridge the gap left by the break, transplanting bone from another donor. Complications from infection, immune response or incomplete union between the transplanted and ho
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Contact: Jim Fessenden
james.fessenden@umassmed.edu
508-856-2000
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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