The latest study has found that new hydrogels may play a role in bone healing. They may promote bone healing by boosting tissue repair and regeneration. The journal “Nature Communication” has published this finding.
Hydrogels deliver the naturally occurring stem cells to the damaged areas of the body and promote tissue repair
A hydrogel consists of a 3D network, made up of polymer chains. The structure of a hydrogel is quite similar to the living tissues. And its 3D network is capable of absorbing water.
Due to these features, one can use hydrogels to deliver stem cells to the defective areas and boost the process of bone healing. The research team has succeeded in obtaining a new hydrogel, which is more effective for bone repair than the present ones.
The team noted that after injecting it in a mice model, this new hydrogel has caused the migration of naturally occurring stem cells. And by doing so, it may play a role in bone healing.
But, the small size of pores in the hydrogels have made them less ideal for tissue repair. As the small pore size limits the survival and expansion of the transplanted stem cells, it may also limit the formation of new tissues.
Clay is one of the naturally occurring minerals that has got importance in the field of biomaterials. And it has also become ideal for medical products. The studies have shown that the clay is biocompatible. It has no side effects and is readily available for the use.
The clay consists of a layered structure, with a negative charge on its surface. The unique charge and structure were vital for the research team as their hydrogels were carrying a positive or opposite charge.
Injecting a clay-enhanced hydrogel has led to a significant bone healing in a mouse model with non-healing skull defect
The results of the study have shown that inserting the hydrogel in the layers of clay has formed a clay-enhanced hydrogel. This action was done using a process known as intercalation chemistry. And the product formed was a more porous structure that helped in a better bone formation.
After getting the clay-enhanced hydrogel, the research team has turned this new biomaterial into a gel by photoinduction. The injection of the hydrogel in the mouse model became easier by this conversion.
The mouse model used in this study was having a non-healing skull defect. The research team injected the clay-enhanced hydrogel into this model. And after six weeks, they assessed the results. The team found that there was a significant bone healing in the model through the migration and growth of its stem cells.
It has provided a piece of evidence that hydrogels may play a role in bone healing. In the future, this study can help in developing hydrogel systems with more porosity. That will boost and improve the present bone graft materials. This nano-sized hydrogel system also has many other benefits.
It may also have use in the cell carriers or the delivery of therapeutics. Also, one can prefer the injectable combinations of living cells and the bioactive molecules (using hydrogels) to avoid more invasive surgery. In this way, hydrogels can serve in medical cases by treating damaged or unhealthy areas of the body.
But still, there is a need for more research to study the influence of the physical properties of the hydrogels. And to understand how these can affect the migration and function of stem cells and the formation of the blood vessels.