UTSA researcher uses speaker foam to repair injured bones
(August 3, 2015) -- Say you fall and crack your head open, an ambulance takes you to the hospital and a group of doctors fill that hole in your skull with speaker foam? Well, soon that might be possible.
Teja Guda, an assistant professor of biomechanical engineering, and Joo L. Ong, chair and professor of biomedical engineering at UTSA, have been working on a product called scaffolding, which is meant to replace bone grafts as a treatment for people who have lost bone matter.
“It almost looks like a kitchen sponge,” Guda said. “The scaffold is 85 percent open space. The cells grow into it, and because we give them something solid to grow into, they start to regenerate tissue.”
Chemically, the scaffolding is made of the same ceramics that are found in bones.
“The idea is to mimic nature,” Guda said. “The body is what we want to duplicate, so why not literally duplicate the building blocks?”
The foam is, in fact, the same foam used in soundproofing and speakers, so it’s an actual building material being used to rebuild a part of the human body. It’s glazed in the same way ceramic pottery is glazed, except its ceramic putty has the same chemical makeup of human bones. It’s put into a furnace to harden the material.
“The big problem with glazed pottery is if you drop it, it cracks,” Guda said. “Now, in the fourth generation and thanks to a protein coating, the current generation of scaffolding is very much improved for performance, in that now it can chip but it won’t disintegrate.”
Scaffolding could replace bone grafts as a treatment, which is taking bone either from the patient’s body or from a cadaver. But cadaver bones have the risk of transmitting disease or not being compatible with the patient’s body.
“If the graft is taken from the patient’s body, the pain from that second injury is often more than the original injury,” said Guda. “There’s only so much you can scavenge from across the body. You don’t have a lot of spare bones lying around.”
Animal trials have been successful and the product is now undergoing further development abroad. Guda has also loaded drugs and antibiotics onto the scaffolding material so that doctors can skip that extra step while treating a patient.
Learn more about biomedical engineering at UTSA.
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The Roadrunner community and nearby residents are highly encouraged to cast their votes at UTSA, a designated early voting site for the March 3 Texas presidential primary election.H-E-B Student Union, Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), Main Campus
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If you’re interested in pursuing a career in health care, you won’t want to miss UTSA’s 14th annual Health Professions Day. Meet with representatives of health professions programs at schools such as Texas Tech University Health Science Center, University of Texas Medical Branch, University North Texas Health Science Center, University of the Incarnate Word, and many more. Free and open to UTSA students, local area college and high school students, and community members.Student Union, Retama Galleria (SU First Floor Corridor), Main Campus
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UTSA’s first Wellbeing Fair is a part of the President’s Initiative of Enriching Campus Wellbeing. UTSA is committed to the well-being of each member of the campus community and recognizes that numerous factors contribute to overall wellness: physical and mental health, diet and nutrition, physical activity, stress management and self-care, social behaviors and more. The fair will give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to participate in well-being activities, obtain well-being information and learn about available services. Participants will become more competent in making healthy decisions to take a more proactive approach in their own well-being.Paseo Principal, Student Union, Main Campus