Artificial bone crafted with unprecedented detail
Researchers at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute have created an exact replica of the bone using a system that combines biothermal imaging with a hot nanoparticle.
The creation of artificial bone that closely matches natural bone down to the microscopic details of tiny structures vital for stem cell differentiation and bone regeneration is the holy grail of orthopedics. This could open the door to better disease modeling, in vitro cell-based targeted therapy and drug screening.
Researchers in New York have published a study detailing a system that allows them to sculpt precise bone structures from biocompatible material with elements smaller than the diameter of a proton.
Cells exist in the environment of the human body, which controls their behavior and supports tissue regeneration through certain morphological and chemical signals at the molecular level. Bone stem cells are embedded in a matrix of fibers within a very complex bone structure that has previously resisted replication using standard techniques.
The platform on which the new system is based is known as biothermal scanning probe lithography (bio-tSPL). It involves photographing natural bone tissue and then using it as a reference to create a copy.
Researchers have demonstrated that bio-tSPL can be scaled up to produce a bone replica of a size suitable for biomedical research and applications, and at an affordable cost. These structures can support the growth of new bone cells from the patient’s own stem cells, hinting at the use of new stem cells with very broad research and therapeutic potential, such as improved orthopedic implants.
TSPL is an energetic nanofabrication technique that my lab pioneered a few years ago and is currently being implemented using the commercially available NanoFrazor tool, said Professor Elisa Riedo, who led the study. However, until now, limitations in performance and biocompatibility of materials have prevented its use in biological research.
We are thrilled to have overcome these barriers and led tSPL into biomedical applications. Its time and cost effectiveness, as well as cell compatibility and the ability to reuse copies of bones, make bio-tSPL an ideal platform for creating surfaces that perfectly mimic any biological tissue with unprecedented precision and detail.
Giuseppe Maria de Peppo commented: I am delighted with the precision achieved with bio-tSPL. Bone-mimicking surfaces such as bone reproduced in this study provide unique opportunities for understanding cell biology and modeling bone disease, as well as developing better platforms for drug screening.
As a tissue engineer, I am particularly pleased that this new platform can also help us create more effective orthopedic implants for the treatment of skeletal and maxillofacial defects resulting from injury or disease.