According to a joint announcement from researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), a $200,000 investment has been initiated to fund the latest project for the development of a synthetic drug-loaded scaffold that will be used in bone grafting procedures.
According to a recent estimate, each year over three million musculoskeletal procedures are performed in the United States to promote repair and regeneration of moderate tissue damage due to a variety of congenital and acquired conditions such as bone diseases, trauma, and surgical removal of tumor lesions.
It is expected that the product — the UTSA-SwRI bone graft substitute — would replace the current gold standard, autologous grafting. Autologus grafting refers to the transfer of a tissue from one part of the body to the other part (a strategy that decreases the risk of graft rejection and is maximally successful in bone grafting procedures and other types of grafting). However, the efficacy and benefits of the procedure is limited by tissue scarcity and potential surgical complications. Moreover, most autologous grafts are ineffective at managing larger bone defects.
About the UTSA-SwRI bone graft substitute:
Dr. Anson Ong — a researcher from UTSA and SwRI — will be working with Jian Ling, a staff engineer at SwRI. The two researchers will use hydroxyapatite and collagen to design the synthetic scaffold (natural bone is also composed of hydroxyapatite, collagen, and water).
The UTSA-SwRI bone graft substitute will be designed to deliver the scaffold a rigid but complementary elastic structure that will make normal physiological activities much easier. Moreover, the researchers can always use it to fill large bone defects due to custom designing.
The drug-microparticles will also be incorporated in the UTSA-SwRI bone graft scaffold, which release active growth factors in a controlled fashion to enable stem cells to transform into bone cells and fuse with the scaffold. Currently, the bone graft market is worth over $2.5 million per year, and if this product is successful, it will hopefully meet the demands of musculoskeletal surgeries.
About the primary investigators:
Jian Ling is a staff engineer at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and has over 19 years of extensive biomedical research experience that includes the development of collagen-hydroxyapatite composite scaffolds.
Anson Ong is also a distinguished USAA Foundation Professor in Biomedical Engineering and has established expertise in the field of bone-biomaterial tissue interfaces.
The annual UTSA-SwRI joint funding initiative or Connect Program was established in 2010 in an attempt to stimulate inter-organizations research between SwRI investigators and UTSA scholars in fields such as chemistry and chemical engineering, advanced materials, energy, the environment, security and manufacturing.