Polyester may help shore up damaged bones

April 10, 2000

Michael Yaszemski, M.D., Ph.D. of Mayo Clinic has combined his two areas of expertise -- orthopedic surgery and chemical engineering -- into two new molecular approaches to fixing bone injuries. Both involve polyesters, the same chemical substances used in fabrics and plastics, only these are biodegradable.

One is injected into the honeycomb-like structure of bone at the site of an injury. The chemical acts like a scaffold, providing strength to stabilize the injured section and a structure on which new bone can attach. The scaffold slowly deteriorates as it's exposed to bodily fluids, leaving only the new bone growth.

The second chemical is used to deliver natural bone growth factors, such as demineralized bone matrix, bone morphogenetic protein or transforming growth factor, to the injury site to promote regrowth of bone. Again, it is absorbed by the body after its job is done.

So far, Dr.Yaszemski's studies have been limited to cells and animals but clinical trials in people are planned in the near future.

Mayo Clinic

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