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Discovery Files – Bone Therapy

NSF News

Bone Therapy

This is The Discovery Files, from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Are you one of the 6.8 million Americans annually that fracture a bone? In most cases, about two weeks after a bone is broken, our body steps in and begins forming new bone, to reconnect the broken pieces.

But sometimes, our body needs a little help in the healing process. The key proteins needed to manage the natural repair of broken bone are not always there.

Supported in part by NSF, researchers at Penn State University are working with a team that is bioprinting bone, encoding two growth factor genes to enhance healing and to regenerate bone.

Bioprinting is a 3-D printing technology that uses living cells to manufacture tissue for reconstructive surgery. A growth factor is a naturally occurring substance that promotes cell growth.

One gene the team used stimulates cells to multiply and migrate to the defective area. The other is a bone protein that generates new bone growth. It is gene therapy for broken bones!

The team realized if they simply used the natural growth factors, it would limit the amount of the important protein available. But if they used the novel bioprinting gene therapy process, the cells would continue to produce those essential growth factors.

Bioprinting bones could one day accelerate the healing process of broken bones.

Discover how the U.S. National Science Foundation is advancing research at nsf.gov.

“The discovery files” covers projects funded by the government’s National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research — brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.