For many years, pharmacists have been theorising, and recently putting into practical use, the idea of using microspheres as a method of drug dispensing. But now chemists from the University of Nottingham have taken the idea to the next level and are exploring the possibility of using microspheres as a delivery method for bone repair.
As the University’s website explains, the new procedure would be a, “targeted therapy [that] could offer a quick, easy and minimally-invasive treatment that is injected into areas considered to be at high-risk of fracture to promote bone regeneration. [With] the experimental materials consisting of porous microspheres produced from calcium phosphates – a key component in bones – to be filled with stem cells extracted from the patient.”
As the MIDOS project organizers state, “Our Aim is to scale-up the development of these novel porous calcium phosphate glass microspheres which would ‘repair’ the bone tissue (via release of CaP ions from the resorbing microspheres) and ‘regenerate’ bone tissue via the stem cells incorporated within.”
With the National Osteoporosis Society calculating that in the UK alone, “around 3 million people have the disease,” then any progress made towards reversing the condition is sure to be useful.
As Dr Ahmed, from the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Nottingham, said, “If we could strengthen these peoples bone before they suffered from fractures, using a simple injection procedure, it would save people the pain and trauma of broken bones and associated consequences such as surgery and loss of independence.”
The development of this new treatment is one of a number of uses that microspheres now have in the pharmaceutical industry. They are being used as a drug delivery system for a great many illnesses, but this is the first time they are being used as a body building system to help reconstruct old tissue.
With the increasing use of microspheres in such a wide range of products and growing industries, from battery manufacture to plastic sheeting, to modern car composites to pharmaceuticals, it is clear that the microsphere market will be one to follow closely. Their weight to volume ratio, strength, the ability to add chemicals inside them, or make their frames porous, or their sheer versatility is sure to make them a highly sought after commodity for years to come.