Bone tissue regeneration is a process.not fast. In addition, it is difficult not only for the human body, but also for a team of doctors and the patient himself. After all, it is necessary not only to correctly match bone fragments, but also to securely fix them for a long time. However, a new substance may facilitate this process. After all, an international group of researchers has found a way to use hybrid aerogels, durable and ultralight materials that will stimulate the growth of new bone tissue.
What are aerogels
For starters, let's figure out whatare these already mentioned aerogels. Aerogels, roughly speaking, are a combination of solid and gas. Imagine jelly, but not ordinary jelly, but one where water slowly dries and is completely replaced by air. This slow and thorough liquid removal allows the gel to maintain its shape, rather than wrinkling into a hard lump. The combination of solid and gas makes aerogels extremely light and very porous. These two qualities make them suitable for use in the form of scaffolds, which can be used as physical “substitutes” for the developing bone, so that as it grows, the gel is replaced with new bone tissue.
Currently the most commonmethods of bone regeneration are either associated with fixing the bones relative to each other "from the outside" by applying tires, gypsum or using other devices, or by matching fragments and fixing them with metal plates and pins.
Bone tissue just needs a little"Encouragement" for regeneration. - say scientists. The main thing is to make new bone tissue grow in the right direction and at the right time. Stop growing too soon and the bone will be too fragile. You will treat for a very long time - bone calluses form (ed. - something like growths at the site of a fused fracture), and the surrounding muscles atrophy very much while a person is wearing plaster.
A kind of balance can be achieved witha framework using hybrid aerogels. A framework is a structure that is located at the site of bone restoration and that “guides” the growing tissue. A good framework should be strong, but not too cruel, hold on long enough to form fresh tissue, and have many pores for growing bone. Airgel meets all these requirements. About new unique materials and not only we regularly write in Yandex.Zen, so subscribe to be in the know.
How airgel helps in bone regeneration
There are many different types of frames from ceramics andmetals to cellulosic hydrogels. So what makes hybrid aerogels better than others? Firstly, they are half composed of proteins that are eventually destroyed by the body. The other half is silicon, which slowly “melts” in the form of orthosilicic acid, and it, in turn, accelerates wound healing. Secondly, the pore size of the airgel can be controlled during the production process, adapting it to various tasks, since different body bones have different density and porosity.
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As a result, three research laboratories,based in Iran, Germany and Austria, got together and decided to combine a very strong protein with a very light and porous airgel. The selected protein was silk fibroin, a substance found in silkworm cocoons. Of course, researchers are faced with a fair amount of obstacles in their path. According to the Inverce publication, the first material was too hydrophobic (it repelled water, which is bad for such a substance), the second was too hard and dry, and the third would simply “sit” in the body forever without breaking down.
Having done what is needed, the scientists went on tothe next phase: checking if hybrid aerogels are harmful to human cells. When a hybrid airgel was placed in a cup containing bone cells, the latter easily grew on its surface, taking the proteins and minerals necessary for bone growth and developing absolutely normal.
In the next step, hybrid aerogels decidedcheck on mice. Researchers (unfortunately, sometimes it is necessary to act in the name of science) caused bone fractures in two groups of animals. Some rodents were implanted with an airgel, while others were treated using traditional methods. After 25 days, they saw that mice with implants had faster and better healing than mice without implants. Airgel not only allowed the new bone to grow, but also made it grow faster than usual.
Moreover, rodents from the first group could wellit is comfortable to “use” their limbs without additional fixation, which did not limit their functionality. And some animals took only a few days to heal. Of course, the airgel has yet to be tested on humans, but a much faster rehabilitation period allows us to say that if successful, we will have a remedy that will heal the bones in a few days, not weeks, as is happening now.