Tags: tufts | silk | bone | repair

Biodegradable ‘Silk’ Repairs Bones

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 11:52 AM


Biomedical engineers at Tufts University's School of Engineering have developed a new biodegradable “silk” that can be used as a bracing material to improve the way bones and other tissues heal following an accident or disease.
The new technology uses micro-sized silk fibers to support body tissues, in the same way steel bars reinforce concrete, according to the Tufts scientists who reported their discovery in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
About 1.3 million Americans undergo bone graft surgeries each year, and the new material could offer a significant improvement over current techniques used to treat them.
"By adding the microfibers to the silk scaffolds, we get stronger mechanical properties as well as better bone formation. Both structure and function are improved," said David Kaplan, who helped conduct the research. "This approach could be used for many other tissue systems where control of mechanical properties is useful and has broad applications for regenerative medicine."
Currently, a handful of biomaterials, such as collagen, are used for bone regeneration, but they lack strength. By using silk protein microfibers, the Tufts bioengineers were able to develop a stronger alternative with better properties for promoting bone growth, repair and formation.
The Tufts work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.


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Tufts discovery could help the 1.3 million Americans who undergo bone graft surgeries each year.
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Wednesday, 02 May 2012 11:52 AM
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