New medical advances take place every day, whether or not you hear of them. These medical discoveries take years to discover and perfect. They then must be tested thoroughly and wait for FDA approval before they can go public. One such medical advance that has been years in the making is designed to help repair seriously damaged bones, whether it’s a small facial bone or something very serious, such as a skull that needs repair.
Researchers at Rice University have created a gel that makes it easier for doctors to repair seriously damaged bones. This gel is a kickstart for regeneration of bone growth using a person’s stem cells. In the past, regrowing bones was something doctors had to carefully monitor – and it was not a quick process. It required frequent monitoring to ensure that the bones regrew in the correct shape. This new gel recreates only the tissue needed by any particular patient, making the process much faster and much less delicate.
By creating a type of degrading scaffold to outline the area in which bone growth should occur, tissue grows only in those areas, recreating perfectly shaped bones for people who need bone regeneration. Essentially, all that doctors will need to do with this gel is place it in the area where bone growth is needed and allow nature to heal the rest of the bone.
Initially, the technique is being used on skulls, but it will eventually be used in less vital areas of the body to help with bone regrowth, as well as in cosmetic surgeries. Eventually, it is thought that the gel created by scientists at Rice University will take the place of many standard procedures, including cosmetic surgery designed to give you a facelift by reshaping and restructuring the shape of a man or woman’s cheekbones to create an entirely new look.
Image credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University