The patch is a collagen “scaffold” seeded with synthetically created plasmids – self-replicating DNA molecules – for producing bone. Researchers reported that the bio patch led to significant bone regeneration and growth in animal lab testing.
Aliasger Salem, a professor of pharmaceutical science and director of the school’s College of Pharmacy, said the technology could be applied to a range of injuries, including arm and leg fractures and craniofacial damage.
With further development, the bio patch could mean improved treatment and healing for severely injured troops and veterans.
University spokesman Richard Lewis said in an announcement that scaffolds with and without the plasmids were inserted over a 5-millimeter by 2-millimeter missing area of skull in test animals and then monitored for four weeks.
The bio patch grew 44-times more bone and soft tissue in the affected area, and was 14-fold higher, than grew using the scaffold alone. And scans revealed that the plasmid-encoded scaffolds had generated enough new bone growth to nearly close the wound area, Lewis said.
The research is being carried out by Salem and Satheesh Elangovan, assistant professor at the university’s College of Dentistry.
“This is still in the very early stages,” Salem said. “We still have substantial work to do to make sure it’s safe, that there are no bad side effects.”
Still, Salem said he can see the potential of the bio patch used even in first-response situations.
“I would argue that anything done in a clinic is better, because it’s a sterile environment, there are doctors to perform it,” Salem told Military.com. “But if you have an exposed wound and bone fracture, I could imagine this would be a step taken as part of the initial treatment.”