Scientists from Norway develop scaffolding to repair severe teeth and jawbone defects
OSLO, Norway: Dental researchers at the University of Oslo have developed a new artificial scaffolding that aids bone regeneration. Within a few years, they hope to market their invention to help patients with serious teeth and jaw damage caused by severe periodontitis, mandibular cancer, infection or trauma.
According to the researchers, the artificial scaffolding could be used in particular for cases in which the gap between two bone fragments is too wide, or when large parts of the bone have been damaged through surgical removal or radiotherapy. The scaffolding helps the body repair such serious defects, the researchers explained.
“With the new method, it is sufficient to insert a small piece of synthetic bone-stimulating material into the bone. The artificial scaffolding is as strong as real bone and yet porous enough for bone tissue and blood vessels to grow into it and work as a reinforcement for the new bone,” said Prof. Ståle Petter Lyngstadaas, Dean of Research at the Department of Biomaterials at the university’s Institute of Clinical Dentistry.
The scaffolding can be produced like cinder blocks and cut into individual shapes to fit into specific bone defects. It is manufactured from a mixture of water and ceramic powder, which is poured through foam rubber that was designed to look like trabecular bone. The ceramic powder consists of medical-grade titanium dioxide monodisperse nanoparticles, which are also widely used as an additive in sweets, toothpaste and baked goods. Once the mixture has solidified, it is heated to a temperature that causes the foam rubber to dissolve into water vapour and carbon dioxide and the nanoparticles to ligate into one solid structure. It has an open porosity of 90 per cent, containing mostly empty space that can be filled with new bone and blood vessels, which current materials do not provide.
While current materials are degraded gradually, the new scaffolding remains an integral part of the repaired bone, working as reinforcement, Lyngstadaas explained.
In addition, the generation process could be accelerated by the insertion of bone progenitor cells or bone marrow containing stem cells.
Conventionally, damaged bone is repaired by removing tissue from healthy bones, such as the mandible or hip, for implantation. Patients often experience discomfort and complications after the surgery. This can be avoided by using the scaffolding.
Since the scaffolding has shown positive results in preliminary animal studies, the researchers are currently planning to undertake clinical trials on patients with periodontitis and damaged mandibular bone. They also hope that orthopaedists will show interest in the new method.
The new material was developed in collaboration with Corticalis, a Norwegian company that specialises in innovative biomaterials. In order to market their invention, the researchers are currently looking for an industry partner.