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Injectable bone helps breaks

8th December 2008

Researchers in the UK have developed a substance that can be injected into broken bones to help them to heal.

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The "injectable bone" can harden over a broken bone and creates a "biodegradeable scaffold" over which new bone can form.

The Nottingham University team which created the substance have said it might stop the necessity of performing bone grafts.

They plan to carry out clinical trials in the UK. The invention - spearheaded by Professor Kevin Shakesheff - won a Medical Futures award recently.

The polymer has a "toothpaste-like" texture and does not kill the cells around the bone, unlike traditional bone cement which gets hot as it undergoes the hardening process.

Mr Andy Goldberg, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, and a co-founder of the Medical Futures awards, praised the polymer's "potential".

"The fact that it doesn't heat up when in the body, like many other injectable substances is a significant breakthrough," he said.

Professor Shakesheff said that the polymer allowed for precision work, unlike bone grafts where a patient had "to be opened up" and was left "with a damaged area - using this would avoid that".

"We believe we can just insert the needle, follow it to the right spot and inject the polymer, which will fill the desired area, and set as hard as the bone on either side."

He added that he expected the substance to be in use in the USA in two years' time.

 

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