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Building Back Better

A combination of microgels supports growth of bone and blood vessel formation

15 November 2022

Building Back Better

You slip, trip or fall and crack...your bone breaks. The bigger the break, the longer it takes to heal, as bone and blood vessels rebuild. Sometimes a bone graft is needed for complete recovery. However, current engineered bone grafts promote bone formation alone. Researchers now present a scaffold that promotes bone and blood vessel formation – microgels containing proteins that mimic the matrix in which bone cells sit. When human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were added to microgels containing chitosan, gelatin and hydroxyapatite, they attached and matured into bone cells. Next, MSCs were added to microgels containing only gelatin. Fluorescence microscopy revealed MSCs attached (pictured, left), stretched out (right) and matured into networks of endothelial cells, which line blood vessels. Combining the two microgels encouraged and enhanced bone and blood vessel formation. This lays the foundation for creating scaffolds that promote both new bone and blood vessels to heal fractures.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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