The innovative technology is based on a nanoparticle in the form of a polymer sphere. The sphere introduces a microRNA molecule into cells. This triggers human body cells, located at the site of the bone injury, to initiate repair. Often when a bone injury occurs, the healing and bone-building mechanisms within the cells fail to activate.
The most complex thing about the developing the method was breaking through the membrane of cells. Successful trials were conducted with osteoporotic mice. Osteoporosis is a disease where decreased bone strength increases the risk of a broken bone. The next step is to run trials using mice.
There is a further advantage with the process. By using existing cells to repair wounds, this lowers the need for medics to introduce foreign cells via therapeutic methods. This invasive procedure carries risks of fail, because often the human body rejects the added cells.
The researchers behind the project are of the opinion the nanoparticles can help grow bone in people with conditions like oral implants, those undergoing bone surgery or joint repair, or people with tooth decay.
The technology has future applications in terms of new types of therapy involving DNA and RNA in regenerative medicine; as well as tackling pathogens.
The research was led by Professor Peter Ma. The research is published in the journal Nature Communications. The paper is titled: “Cell-Free 3D Scaffold with Two-Stage Delivery of miRNA-26a to Regenerate Critical Sized Bone Defects.”