May 4, 2018 | By David

A recent project carried out by researchers at Washington State University has demonstrated that the most cutting-edge medical technologies might still need a little help from traditional remedies. The WSU team developed a 3D printed ceramic scaffold for regeneration of bone tissue, and found that bone regrowth could be improved by between 30 and 45 percent when the scaffold was coated with the naturally occurring compounds found in turmeric powder. The research was outlined in a paper entitled "Effects of PCL, PEG and PLGA polymers on curcumin release from calcium phosphate matrix for in vitro and in vivo bone regeneration", published in the journal Materials Today Chemistry.

Funded by a National Health Institutes grant, this project was led by Susmita Bose, Herman and Brita Lindholm Endowed Chair Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. "As a mother and having a chemistry background, I realized I didn’t want my children to be exposed to so many chemicals for every illness," Bose said. "I started looking at home remedies."

As well as being an indispensable flavour for a variety of different curries and other dishes, turmeric has long been held in high esteem for its healing properties. The spice, which is extracted from a root, is mostly composed of curcumin, which has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and bone-building capabilities, as well as helping to prevent various forms of cancers. Turmeric has been used as a medicine for centuries, particularly in Asian countries, but it is usually consumed orally, which isn’t the most efficient way of absorbing the curcumin compounds. They can be metabolized and eliminated from the body too quickly for them to have any effect. This project was able to apply the benefits of curcumin directly to the affected area, for more effective results.

The researchers' 3D printed bone scaffold was made from bio-compatible ceramic material, similar to the ones that are now commonly used for tissue regeneration research. These scaffolds are seeded with cells which gradually fuse together to form new tissue, depending on the environment they are in. An issue that affects many bone regeneration medicines currently used to treat osteoporosis and other conditions is the imbalances that they can create in the natural bone remodeling cycle, as well as the poorer quality bone that can be formed.

(images: WSU, Materials Today Chemistry, Healthline)

The team decided to experiment with using the naturally occurring compounds in turmeric as a way to stimulate bone growth. They encased the curcumin within a water-loving polymer, which was a large molecule, so that it could be gradually released from their ceramic scaffolds over time. Coating the 3D printed scaffold with this organic compound was remarkably successful. It was shown to increase the viability and proliferation of new bone cells and blood vessels in surrounding tissue, as well as accelerating the healing process.

The researchers are also looking at other natural remedies, including compounds from aloe vera, saffron, Vitamin D, garlic, oregano and ginger. Bose is focused on compounds that might help with bone disorders, including those that encourage bone growth or that have anti-inflammatory, infection control, or anti-cancer properties.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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