Researchers develop a new method to regenerate damaged bone

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Scientists have found a way of mimicking our body’s natural healing process, using cell derived nano-sized particles called vesicles, to repair damaged tissue. The findings were published in Scientific Reports.

The research team, led by the University of Birmingham, hopes the new discoveries will mark the first step in a new direction for tissue regeneration with the potential to help repair bone, teeth and cartilage.

Fracture numbers are expected to double by 2020, putting tremendous strain on healthcare-systems worldwide. Osteoporosis-fragility fractures alone represent a cost of £1.5 billion to the NHS, and for individuals it can have a detrimental impact on quality of life.

Current approaches have significant limitations; autologous grafts cannot meet demand and cause patient morbidity, allogeneic bone lacks bioactive factors, and growth factor-based approaches (e.g. BMP-2) may have serious side-effects and high costs.

Consequently, there is a considerable need to devise new methods for the generation of large volumes of bone without associated patient morbidity.

In recent years, attention has been focused on cell-based approaches. However, translation is frequently prevented by insurmountable regulatory, ethical and economic issues.

This novel solution delivers all the advantages of cell-based therapies but without using viable cells, by harnessing the regenerative capacity of nano-sized particles called extracellular vesicles that are naturally generated during bone formation.

Excitingly, the team have shown in-vitro that if extracellular vesicles are applied in combination with a simple phosphate the therapy outperforms the current gold standard, BMP-2.

Dr Sophie Cox, from the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham, explained, “Though we can never fully mimic the complexity of vesicles produced by cells in nature, this work describes a new pathway harnessing natural developmental processes to facilitate hard tissue repair.”

Dr Owen Davies, EPSRC E-TERM Landscape Fellow at the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University, added, “It is early days, but the potential is there for this to transform the way we approach tissue repair. We’re now looking to produce these therapeutically valuable particles at scale and also examine their capacity to regenerate other tissues.”

The team includes researchers from the University of Loughborough and University College Dublin, and was funded by an EPSRC E-TERM Landscape Fellowship (Dr Davies), MRC Confidence in Concept grant (Dr Davies and Dr Cox) and the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham.


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I can hardly wait for something to come to those who suffer from osteoarthritis. I myself at 60 yrs old who was very active has been slowed tremendously by osteoarthritis in my knees. It’s depressing not being able to be as active as I once was and it just doesn’t effect your joints, it effects ALL aspects of your life. I am to young to have to manage my arthritis with Tylenol or any over the counter pain reliver. I still need my kidneys and liver to operate with healthy functioning for hopefully many more years to come not to mention my stomach. I sure hope something comes along soon so I have time left in my life to be able to enjoy my life the way it was.

Carole Cundill
Carole Cundill

Exactly how I am Maureen, I am 55 and have to wait until I am 68 before I can even think of retiring. The pain is unbearable at times and people have no idea of the 24/7 battle we face just to face life.


One idea is to work with draft horses like mine that have significant bone reabsoption due to chronic Progressive lymphedema. There is no cure for the disease and it destroys circulation to the hoof. The bone then dies.


Im desperate for a new hip at 50 wish i coukd have this now


eone to test it on?


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