Engineers at the University of California at San Diego have developed a way to help accelerate bone growth through the use of nanotubes and stem cells. The finding could lead to quicker and better recovery for patients who undergo orthopedic surgery.
UCSD researchers and engineers used a nano-bio technology method of placing mesenchymal stem cells on top of very thin titanium oxide nanotubes in order to convert the conversion paths into osteoblasts or bone-building cells. The group’s findings were published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
“What we anticipate through our research is that if the surgeon uses titanium oxide nanotubes with stem cells, the bone healing could be accelerated and a patient may be able to walk in 1 month instead of being on crutches for 3 months,” said Sungho Jin, a materials science professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering. “Our in-vitro and in-vivo data indicate that such advantages can occur by using the titanium oxide nanotube treated implants, which can reduce the loosening of bones.”
Jin and his research team report that the precise change in nanotube diameter can be controlled to induce selective differentiation of stem cells into osteoblast (bone-forming) cells. According to the abstract, nanotubes with a larger diameter cause cells growing on their surface to elongate much more than those with a small diameter. The larger-diameter nanotube promotes quicker and stronger bone growth.
“The use of nano topography to induce preferred differentiation was reported in recent years by other groups, but such studies were done mostly on polymer surfaces, which are not desirable orthopedic implant materials,” Jin said.