Bone Regeneration with Cell-free Injectable Scaffolds

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Enghoffsalen, Akademiska sjukhuset, ingång 50, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Hulsart Billström, Gry
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Ortopedi
  • Kontaktperson: Hulsart Billström, Gry
  • Disputation


Bone is a remarkable multifunctional tissue with the ability to regenerate and remodel without generating any scar tissue. However, bone loss due to injury or diseases can be a great challenge and affect the patient significantly. Autologous bone grafting is commonly used throughout the world. Autograft both fills the void and is bone inductive, housing the particular cells that are needed for bone regeneration. However, a regenerative complement to autograft is of great interest as the use of biomaterials loaded with bioactive molecules can avoid donor site morbidity and the problem of a limited volume of material. Two such regenerative products that utilise bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-7 and -2 have been used for more than a decade clinically. Unfortunately, several side effects have been reported, such as severe swelling due to inflammation and ectopic bone formation. Additionally, the products require open surgery and use of supra physiological doses of the BMPs due to poor localisation and retention of the growth factor. The purpose of this thesis was to harness the strong inductive capacity of the BMP-2 by optimising the carrier of this bioactive protein, thereby minimising the side effects that are associated with the clinical products and facilitating safe and localised bone regeneration. We focused on an injectable hyaluronan-based carrier developed through polymer chemistry at the University of Uppsala. The strategy was to use the body’s own regenerative pathway to stimulate and enhance bone healing in a manner similar to the natural bone-healing process. The hyaluronan-based carrier has a similar composition to the natural extracellular matrix and is degraded by resident enzymes. Earlier studies have shown improved properties when adding hydroxyapatite, a calcium phosphate that constitutes the inorganic part of the bone matrix. In Paper I, the aim was to improve the carrier by adding other forms of calcium phosphate. The results indicated that bone formation was enhanced when using nano-sized hydroxyapatite. In Paper II, we discovered the importance of crushing the material, thus enhancing permeability and enlarging the surface area. We wished to further develop the carrier system, but were lacking an animal model with relatively high throughput, facilitated access, paired data, and we were also committed to the 3Rs of refinement, reduction, and replacement. To meet these challenges, we developed and refined an animal model, and this is described in Paper III. In Paper IV, we sought to further optimise the biomaterial properties of the hydrogel through covalent bonding of bisphosphonates to the hyaluronan hydrogel. This resulted in exceptional retention of the growth factor BMP-2. In Paper V, SPECT/PET/µCT was combined as a tri-modal imaging method to allow visualisation of the biomaterial’s in situ action, in terms of drug retention, osteoblast activity and mineralisation. Finally, in Paper VI the correlation between existing in vitro results with in vivo outcomes was observed for an array of biomaterials. The study identified a surprisingly poor correlation between in vitro and in vivo assessment of biomaterials for osteogenesis.