Tokyo, July 15 (IANS) Researchers have developed a new kind of non-toxic hydrogel that bonds spontaneously and strongly to defected bones, suggesting potential use in the treatments of joint and soft tissue injuries.
When soft tissues — including cartilage and ligaments — are damaged, artificial supporting tissues, which have the potential to significantly improve damage to soft tissues, are used.
The researchers had previously developed double-network gel (DN gel) — a tough, high-strength network gel that exhibited excellent performance such as low wear and inductive function for cartilage regeneration.
However, as the gel’s main component was water, it was difficult for it to bond with other surfaces.
In the new gel, hydroxyapatite (Hap) — the major inorganic component of bone — was coated to the surface of the DN gel before being transplanted to a defected bone.
The hydrogel was found to be tough, nontoxic and adhering strongly to a bone in a major advance in the treatment for joint and soft tissue injuries.
Further, the gel was found to bond to the bone very strongly, forming new bone component in the defected area. It also penetrated into the gel surface, fusing to it seamlessly.
“The bonding between HAp/DN gel and bone mimics physiological bonding seen with cartilage, ligament and tendon, causing less stress to the body,” said Jian Ping Gong, Professor at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan.
“We expect that the gel could be used to firmly attach artificial ligament or tendon to bone”, Gong added.
For the study, published in Advanced Materials, the team transplanted the HAp-coated DN gel (HAp/DN gel) into a defected bone in a rabbit.
Four weeks later, the results showed that the gel had bonded to the bone very strongly, while the non-coated gel had not bonded at all.