Researchers from the Faculty of Chemical Technology, Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuania, are developing an artificial bone, which they suggest can be used to help treat osteoarthritis.

The bi-functional composite imitates the complex osteochondral structure of a joint—ie, both cartilage and bone tissues.

While common treatment for osteoarthritis is pain or anti-inflammatory medication available as pills, syrups, creams, or lotions, KTU chemists are offering a novel approach that uses a bi-functional scaffold as an implant compensating cartilage and bone defects, explains a media release from Kaunas University of Technology.

“A lot of people are suffering from painful joints, and the majority of them have osteoarthritis. To create new composites for solving this problem is especially challenging—cartilage tissue is renewing itself at a very slow rate, and it forms a complex structure together with a bone,” says Simona Miseviciute, an applied chemistry undergraduate, who was conducting the experiment under the supervision of Dr Alisa Palaveniene.

The bi-functional scaffold, created at KTU, aims to compensate defects of both cartilage and bone. Made from hydroxyapatite, gelatine, and chitosan, the scaffold imitates the complex osteochondral structure and functionality of the joint and fills the fractures of the two different tissues, the release continues.

“Development of new scaffolds for regenerative engineering and implementing them in contemporary medicine is of utmost importance—to my knowledge, bi-functional scaffolds imitating complex osteochondral tissue currently are not used in medical practice,” Miseviciute says.

The scaffolds were modeled by layering polymer combinations, and the porous structure of a scaffold was achieved by lyophilisation, i.e. freeze drying.

Elemental analysis, bio imitational mineralization, degradability and water absorption of the composite scaffold were among the parameters measured during the experiment. The tests have shown that the samples were highly hydrophilic, which suggests functionality of the scaffold.

“To create bi-functional scaffolds for human bone engineering, interdisciplinary knowledge of chemistry, biology, pharmacy, anatomy is being used. The new research is aiming to solve most urgent problems of today’s ageing society. Although these experiments are just a beginning of a great endeavor, we are happy to be keeping pace with global tendencies,” Palaveniene concludes, in the release.

[Source(s): Kaunas University of Technology, Science Daily]