Hydrogel scaffolds for cells are under the microscope at UiB

The new ostheosynthesis paradigm proposed by BoneFix aims to overcome current limitations associated with metal plate and screw fixation, namely in terms of defect size regeneration and cost-effectiveness of treatment for trauma and osteolytic lesions. But what is really happening at the interfaces between the fractured bone and the material filling the void?

At the University of Bergen (UiB), PhD research fellow Francesco Torelli and post-doc Ahmad Rashad Elsebahy, under the vigilant supervision of Prof. Kamal Mustafa, have started to investigate the bioactive hydrogel which will constitute the osteosupportive matrix for bone regeneration. In the past few weeks, the Tissue Engineering group at UiB has launched its project task to evaluate the cytocompatibility and cell viability of human Bone Marrow Stem Cells (hBMSCs) embedded into the hydrogel material developed at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The model studied at UiB is based on small aliquots of the photo-tuneable and cell-embedded hydrogels which are then grown in cell lab conditions and analysed via TIRF microscopy, qPCR and fluorescent-based concentration assays apt to minimize and eradicate any eventual toxicity at the cell-material interface. Data concerning proliferation, cell morphologies, viability and cytocompatibility, apoptosis markers, and gene expression profiles in undifferentiated and osteodifferentiating cells are collected and combined with rheological information coming from the other Consortium partners.

As stated by the Tissue Engineering group:

“BoneFix has the potential to positively impact patient's well-being and create value for many end-users. We are still in a primordial stage of our investigation, but the findings collected so far, even if just a glimpse of what could be obtained, are very promising”

The bone-regenerative hydrogel will be optimised and evaluated in in vitro and in vivo studies by KTH and UiB throughout 2022, after which it will be combined with the fixation patch and antibacterial hydrogel domains of BoneFix for further pre-clinical testing.