A team of scientists at Northwestern University has recently found a novel way to promote bone growth using nanomaterial. Coated by sugar, these nanoparticles mimic the growth factors that are naturally found in the body. After injecting to the affected joint, the nanomaterial creates a matrix that supports the regrowth of soft tissues as well as the bone. Traditionally, patients are treated with a growth factor called bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2), however, with side effects.
This new sugar-coated nanomaterial is especially promising as an alternative treatment for spinal fusion, a common surgical procedure that aims to join the adjacent vertebra in spine injuries. Spinal fusion can be a highly invasive procedure as it uses a bone graft obtained from the patient’s pelvis, if not from bone bank.
Scientists and clinicians are further investigating the efficacy of this treatment in animal models. In the near future, sugar coated nanoparticles may be a promising option for patients suffering with bone and joint degeneration.