Developing an enhanced bone repair material to improve healing in musculoskeletal disorders

Disease - Traumatic fracture, other surgical techniques, joint replacement

Lead applicant - Dr Cheryl Miller

Organisation - University of Sheffield

Type of grant - Translation

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £99,883.14

Start date - 3 December 2018

Reference - 22037

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Bone may become damaged as the result of injury or medical conditions including cancer, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Poor bone healing can significantly affect patient quality of life and in some cases can further complicate the treatment of osteoarthritis. The aim of this research is to develop an enhanced bone repair material to improve bone healing outcomes.

Why is this research important?

When surgery is needed to fill a large gap in the bone, a piece of bone (known as bone graft) can be used to repair the site. This usually works best using bone from elsewhere in the own patient’s body, however healthy bone is not always readily available, particularly when the patient has a condition such as osteoarthritis. Synthetic bone filling materials can be used instead, but results can be inconsistent, particularly in elderly patients. Mixing these synthetic filling materials with proteins or molecules that have been identified to promote bone repair can improve outcomes, however can be an expensive approach.

This research aims to take the building blocks of these proteins (known as peptides) and test their effect on bone repair, providing a more cost-effective approach. The peptides will be combined with a synthetic bone filling material and tested in a non-healing bone defect in rabbits to see its effects on bone repair.

How will the findings benefit patients?

If results from this research project are positive, the bone-healing material may be taken forward to a human clinical trial, which could lead to a new synthetic bone filling material benefitting from the properties of peptides that promote bone repair. This could be used by surgeons to repair problematic defects of bone as a result of fractures or diseases such as osteoarthritis.