The process, which has been successful in previous lab experiments, uses biodegradable polymer scaffolding material and bone morphogenetic protein, or BMP, which was inserted into the abdomen of mice to attract stem cells that in turn produced bone.
    
BMPs are proteins known to promote bone growth. Liping Tang, University of Texas at Arlington bioengineering chair and professor said the process will allow surgeons to establish a "mini-bioreactor" in a patient's own body.
    
Scientists determined that the abdomen of a mouse effectively mimics the traumatic and foreign body environmental response that takes place during various bone repair procedures in humans.
    
Bone tissue can be generated in a few days through the process, Tang said, rather than the weeks or months existing processes take in a lab setting.

"This research will help us to formalize a specific type of scaffolding mixture that could eliminate the use of current bone grafting techniques," said Dr Joseph Borrelli, chair of orthopedics for Texas Health Arlington Memorial.

The procedure could help with open bone fractures, osteomyelitis, fractures that fail to heal, congenital malformations, tumours and, in a more general sense, perhaps osteoporosis.
    
The goal is to use the body's own healing capacity in bone repair, Borrelli said.

Borrelli said the current grafting procedure has a 25 percent complication rate. He said the new procedure will help curtail the complication rate associated with bone grafting and reduce medical costs.
    
"In the future, a physician will be able to inject the scaffolding material with the ideal protein into the area where the patient's bone needs to grow or repair, and the patient's cells will never have to leave the body," Borelli said.
    
"It will cut down on cost. It will cut down on surgery time. It will enhance patient comfort, too," Borelli said.

(Agencies)

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