Cutting-edge bone regeneration research could revolutionise healthcare

A new research project in the School of Chemical Engineering is looking to develop a novel technology to improve bone healing and quality following injury or disease, including fractures.

In the USA alone, over 8 million bone fractures are reported annually. In the UK, fractures related to osteoporosis-fragility represent a cost of over £1.5 billion to the NHS.

The PRo-Osteogenic VEsicles for bone regeneration (PROVE) project is aiming to provide a cost effective method which improves on current techniques and enhances patient welfare.

The problems of bone regeneration

There are many reasons why bone may not regenerate correctly after fracture, which commonly require the patient to undergo additional procedures, which may impact quality of life and increase national healthcare costs.

Current methods of bone regeneration can have significant limitations, from not meeting demand to serious side-effects. Consequently there is a considerable need for new methods to improve patient wellbeing.

Harnessing natural processes

By using the capacity of extracellular vesicles (EVs), which naturally occur during healthy bone formation, researchers are hoping to develop a new, targeted method to enhance bone regeneration.

Dr Owen Davies commented, 'the importance of EVs as vehicles for the delivery of many important biological cargos is becoming increasingly apparent. The therapeutic application of these nano-sized particles could represent a highly innovative and exciting new phase in regenerative medicine'.

plus-exosomes-bone-regeneration
Stem cell (stained in red and blue) with the vesicles (green)

The researchers have recently been award a Medical Research Council grant to develop an injectable material to deliver EVs directly to the site of injury, without any of the serious side-effects of other methods.

Dr Sophie Cox added, 'There is a real need for a better solution. EVs have great potential and current indications are promising.'

Further information

Visit the Healthcare Technologies website.