Newly developed gel can locally reinforce bones weakened by osteoporosis

It could serve as a minimally invasive treatment to help avoid systemic secondary effects.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and brittle. The condition increases the risk of a broken bone.

Globally around 250 million people have osteoporosis. It manifests as a reduction in bone mass and a deterioration of the bone microarchitecture, leading to increased fracture risk.

Ulrike Kettenberger, a post-doc researcher at LBO, adds“It’s a big problem in our society. 40% of people who fracture their hip can never walk again without assistance, and 33% become no longer self-sufficient. One out of five patients dies in the year following the fracture. These figures are alarming.”

Now, scientists at the LBO have come up with a novel compound called Flowbone to address this problem. They have developed a biomaterial in the form of a gel that contains a hyaluronic acid matrix, calcium phosphate particles, and a tiny dose of a bisphosphonate.

Kettenberger said, “We developed a biomaterial in the form of a gel that contains a hyaluronic acid matrix, calcium phosphate particles, and a tiny dose of a bisphosphonate.”

Doctors can inject the gel directly in a patient’s bone under local anesthesia. The gel penetrates the bone structure without damaging it.

The scientists entered their Flowbone startup in the Venture Kick competition for Swiss entrepreneurs and have just made it through the second round with a prize of CHF 50,000 in funding.

Professor Dominique Pioletti, the head of the Biomechanical Orthopedics Laboratory (LBO) at EPFL’s School of Engineering, said, “We plan to use this money to conduct pre-clinical trials. They expect to launch their Flowbone gel on the market within five or six years.”

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