Researchers are moving closer to a new approach for improving spinal fusion procedures and repairing broken or defective bones that avoids an over-production of bone that commonly occurs in current treatments.
In a preclinical study, researchers significantly reduced undesired bone growth outside of targeted repair areas in rat femurs by delivering a potent bone-forming protein called bone morphogenetic protein, or BMP, using a new biomaterial made from heparin.
A six-member research team - led by Marian H. Hettiaratchi, a bioengineer in the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at the University of Oregon - described the approach in a paper published Jan. 3 issue of the online journal Science Advances .
Hettiaratchi began exploring the use of heparin microparticles to deliver BMP as a possible way to stop abnormal bone growth more than five years ago while a doctoral student at the Georgia Institute of Technology under the mentorship of co-authors Robert Guldberg and Todd McDevitt.
The traditional approach of using high doses of BMP alone has led to numerous complications in humans, including soft tissue inflammation and abnormal ossification.
For the new study, Hettiaratchi and colleagues fed their earlier results from experiments done in both rats and test tubes into computer simulations to explore ways to adjust their heparin-based approach in animal testing with levels of BMP comparable to dosages required in human bone-repair procedures.
We focused on using doses that were more clinically relevant. In humans, the typical treatment uses 0.1 to 0.2 milligrams of BMP per kilogram of body weight, so we used the same amount in the rats. Most research done in rats uses 10 times less BMP to repair bone, which isn't comparable to what's done in humans and doesn't exhibit the side effects of a clinical BMP dose." Marian H. Hettiaratchi, bioengineer in the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, University of Oregon
Two different strengths of the combination were used, resulting in 40 to 50 percent reductions in abnormal ossification. The heparin microparticles contain heparin's long-chained linear polysaccharides, with sulfated groups which drive stronger binding affinity to BMP. Related Stories
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