When a fracture occurs, the body fills the injury site with a healing biochemical called adenosine. A new bandage is designed to absorb the substance and keep it around so it can do more work.
In general, adenosine, which naturally occurs at the site of bone damage, is quickly metabolized by the body. This stops the healing “boost” that the chemical originally provided. Led by Professor Shyni Varghese, scientists at Duke University in North Carolina set out to develop a way to “capture and hide” adenosine at the injured site, enabling it to perform its healing “duties” over a longer period of time.
The prototype bandage they developed could be applied directly to fractured bones through surgery. It combines borate molecules that form bonds with adenosine molecules present at the site of the injury. As these bonds gradually weaken, adenosine is released slowly-but only when needed.
Varghese said: “Adenosine is ubiquitous in humans, its levels are low, and it performs many important functions unrelated to bone healing. To avoid harmful side effects, we must find a way to localize and maintain adenosine on damaged tissue at The right level. ”
In laboratory tests, the researchers treated bone fractured mice with three types of bandages. These include bandages designed to retain adenosine produced by animals, bandages that have been “primed” with adenosine, and bandages that neither contain nor are likely to capture chemicals.
After three weeks, although all mice showed signs of healing, mice treated with both types of adenosine bandages showed better bone formation, higher bone mass, and better angiogenesis. Infused bandages may be particularly useful for patients with osteoporosis.
Scientists are now working to improve the ability of bandages to retain adenosine and are further studying potential side effects. They hope to eventually create a product that can be harmlessly biodegraded when the work is done.
A paper on the study was published this week in the journal Advanced Materials.