Members of the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Dentistry have come up with a new technology that can aid individuals with periodontitis or mandibular cancer in maintaining their dental health. The invention, a foam-rubber-shaped scaffolding, helps the body’s natural bone regeneration process by reinforcing bone growth.
Individuals with mandibular cancer or periodontitis can suffer from decay or loss of bone in the jaw, causing the teeth to come loose. Normally, the body is fairly adept at healing itself, particularly when it comes to bone repair. However, in order for the body to successfully heal itself it requires the damaged bone parts to be in close proximity to each other.
If processes such as radiation therapy have damaged the bone, or if there’s too wide of a gap between the damaged pieces, the body is unable to repair itself. That’s where the University of Oslo’s invention comes in.
By inserting a small piece of the material into the damage site, it stimulates bone growth by providing a porous platform for blood vessels and bone tissue to grow into. What’s more, the artificial scaffolding is just as strong as organic bone.
However, even with the aid of this technology, the bones may need a bit more help in repairing themselves. In cases where damage is severe, it can take the bone tissues a bit of time to grow into the scaffolding. In these cases, stem cells, taken from the bone marrow, will be utilized to accelerate the process.
The current methods for bone repair consist of either taking a segment of bone from the individual’s leg or jaw, or utilizing ground up bone from others, often the deceased. In the case of the former, the surgery can cause complications, and in the latter the ground bone isn’t particularly strong or porous. Plus, there’s an added risk of disease transfer that comes with using another person’s bone.
The artificial material has been successfully tested in rabbits, dogs and pigs, with trials on patients with periodontitis and mandibular bone damage planned for this year. In addition to the further testing, the team is also working on bringing the product to market in the next few years, citing the several million patients worldwide who undergo mandibular bone repair.