Treating relatively fine bone fractures is challenging, as mechanisms to promote and correct bone growth used in large fractures are not suitable. Wits researchers have developed an injectable compound which is liquid at room temperature and becomes solid at body temperature that meets this need. It provides adhesion of the bone by forming a tight, semi-elastic, bond at the bone fracture site. Through this approach, a non-invasive solution that also provides an ideal environment for cellular regeneration and proliferation, therefore allowing damaged tissue to be restored. It addresses other challenges attributed to donor site morbidity, long recovery times, as well as substantial tissue damage resulting from surgery.
In addition, to the injectable thermo-nanogel, the researchers have also developed a 3D bioprinted scaffold from the thermoresponsive hydrogels, as an implantable technology. The 3D printed scaffold possesses similar matrix hardness and resilience properties as healthy bone tissue and can be used to replace bone tissue.