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Engineering Materials
Bone Repair Aided by Silk Scaffold
5/22/2012

A tough new bone scaffold material uses hydrolyzed silk microfibers to reinforce a silk matrix.   (Source: Tufts University)
A tough new bone scaffold material uses hydrolyzed silk microfibers to reinforce a silk matrix.
(Source: Tufts University)

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gsmith120
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Interesting Research on Bone Repair
gsmith120   5/22/2012 8:24:14 AM
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Ann, very interesting story.  Is this technology being used on real patience or it is still in the development stages?    I hope you will write future stories on this as it continues to develop.

williamlweaver
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Biodegradable Drug Delivery
williamlweaver   5/22/2012 8:24:19 AM
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Wow, Ann! This is fantastic. I've worked with Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) bone cement along with researchers here at the Einstein Medical Center here in Philadelphia. Our research was investigating the mechanical properties (strength) of PMMA after having chemotherapeutic agents mixed in with the monomer before polymerization and the elution rates of the drugs after they were placed in vivo. The PMMA retained its strength for the most part, but the slow elution rates of most drugs meant a patient would have to endure low dose chemo drugs over many years to decades. 

A biodegradable bone scaffold material such as this could be used to deliver the chemo drugs over a finite amount of time. Promising applications...


naperlou
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Natural materials
naperlou   5/22/2012 9:17:20 AM
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Ann, this seems like a good example of natural based materials being used to solve a human health problem.  Is that the case? 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Interesting Research on Bone Repair
Ann R. Thryft   5/22/2012 12:00:55 PM
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gsmith, I doubt if this has been used on actual patients yet--this is an R&D project at a university, and the announcement would most likely have mentioned any beta testing. If we hear anything about actual testing, I'll be happy to report on it.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Biodegradable Drug Delivery
Ann R. Thryft   5/22/2012 12:02:17 PM
williamlweaver, thanks for the enthusiastic response from someone who's worked with materials aimed at similar applications. The scenario you mention sounds very similar to the idea the Tufts researchers mention, of drug delivery over a short period, and then the scaffold biodegrading in situ.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Interesting Research on Bone Repair
Rob Spiegel   5/22/2012 3:43:24 PM
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This is an exciting development, Ann. The biomedical field is just going to get more and more interesting in coming years. If this material could help those with osteoporosis, it could have a major impact of the quality of life for millions.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Natural materials
Ann R. Thryft   5/22/2012 3:55:49 PM
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naperlou, I think you're right. This is yet another case of using natural materials to solve problems by taking advantage of their inherent characteristics, instead of trying to force synthetic materials to do something they are not made to do, or can't easily do (be bio-compatible and biodegradable, in this instance). Of course, the researchers had to design silk matrices to mimic bone, but that apparently wasn't too tough to achieve.

NadineJ
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Re: Natural materials
NadineJ   5/22/2012 11:49:40 PM
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Nice article.  I suspect this can be vegan friendly since long silk strands aren't needed. 

Ann, do you know if the silk can be harvested after the moth emerges for this?  Boiling larvae alive is generally how long silk threads are extracted.

Many true vegans, whether for ethical or religious reasons, have difficulties with many medical procedures because of animal material or testing used.

Personally, i love to see biomimicry in new developments.

TJ McDermott
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Permanent?
TJ McDermott   5/23/2012 3:22:09 AM
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Ann, does this "scaffold" become a permanent part of the bone, or will it eventually be removed from one's body?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Interesting Research on Bone Repair
Ann R. Thryft   5/23/2012 12:44:28 PM
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Thanks, Rob, I agree. I was really happy to see this. I especially like the cross-application aspect: silk has been used for years in sutures because it's biocompatible and biodegradable.

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