The novel "bone bandage" has wide-ranging potential applications for bone regeneration and regenerative medicine generally.
Piezoelectric materials generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress. Bone is a piezoelectric material. Because it possesses an electrical microenvironment, electrical signals play an important role in the bone repair process, which can effectively promote bone regeneration. However, bone regeneration is a complex process that relies on mechanical, electrical, and biological components.
Current strategies for bone regeneration, such as grafts or scaffolds that release growth factors, have limitations, such as complications at the donor site, limited availability, and high cost. Now, researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a pioneering approach to bone regeneration that combines piezoelectricity and a mineral that occurs naturally in bone.
Hydroxyapatite (HAp), a mineral in bones and teeth, plays a role in bone's structural strength and regeneration. It's commonly added to toothpaste to remineralize tooth enamel and fortify teeth. Studies have found that HAp enhances osteogenesis (bone formation) and provides a scaffold for new bone growth. It also has piezoelectric properties and a rough surface, making it an ideal candidate for creating scaffolds on which to grow bone.
So, the researchers fabricated a freestanding biomimetic scaffold, integrating HAp within the piezoelectric framework of polyvinylidene fluoride-co-trifluoro ethylene (P(VDF-TrFE)), a polymer film. The independent scaffold, which generates electrical signals when pressure is applied, sets this approach apart from previous research combining HAp and P(VDF-TrFE), which was limited to coatings on metallic prosthetics. The researchers' novel approach, they say, provides a versatile platform for bone regeneration beyond surface-bound applications.