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First-ever piezoelectric bandage can heal broken bones much faster, study finds

Bone regeneration is a complex process, but a new material has been developed that could revolutionize current methods. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

Bone regeneration is a complex process, but a new material has been developed that could revolutionize current methods, which often come with high costs.

Researchers at KAIST, led by Professor Seungbum Hong from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE), have created a scaffold that stimulates the growth of bone tissue by utilizing a special material called hydroxyapatite (HAp).


This breakthrough was achieved through collaboration with Professor Jangho Kim's team from the Department of Convergence Biosystems Engineering at Chonnam National University.

Hydroxyapatite, or HAp, is a calcium phosphate material found in bones and teeth. It's not only biocompatible but also known to prevent tooth decay and is commonly found in toothpaste.


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Prior studies have shown that piezoelectric scaffolds, which generate electrical signals when pressure is applied, can promote bone regeneration and improve bone fusion. However, these studies were limited in mimicking the complex cellular environment necessary for optimal bone tissue regeneration.

This new research offers a novel approach by harnessing the osteogenic properties of HAp to create a material that mimics the conditions for bone tissue regeneration within the body.


The research team developed a manufacturing process that combines HAp with a polymer film. This resulted in a flexible and free-standing scaffold with promising potential for promoting bone regeneration, as demonstrated through experiments conducted in both laboratory settings (in-vitro) and in live rats (in-vivo).

Design and characterization of piezoelectrically and topographically originated biomimetic scaffolds. (a) Schematic representation of the enhanced bone regeneration mechanism through electrical and topographical cues provided by HAp-incorporated P(VDF-TrFE) scaffolds. (b) Schematic diagram of the fabrication process. (CREDIT: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces)

Using atomic force microscopy (AFM), the team analyzed the electrical properties of the scaffold and assessed surface properties related to cell shape and protein formation within cells' skeletal structure. They also investigated how piezoelectricity and surface properties influenced the expression of growth factors.


Professor Hong emphasized the significance of their work, stating, “We have developed a HAp-based piezoelectric composite material that can act like a ‘bone bandage’ through its ability to accelerate bone regeneration.”

Analysis of piezoelectric and surface properties of the biomimetic scaffolds using atomic force microscopy. (a) PFM amplitude and phase images of box-poled composite scaffolds. The white bar represents 2 μm. (b) 3D representations of composite scaffolds paired with typical 2D line sections. (CREDIT: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces)

He added, “This research not only suggests a new direction for designing biomaterials but is also significant in having explored the effects of piezoelectricity and surface properties on bone regeneration.”


The study, published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, was led by co-first authors Soyun Joo and Soyeon Kim from Professor Hong’s group, with Ph.D. candidate Yonghyun Gwon from Professor Kim’s group also participating as a co-first author, and Professor Kim himself as a corresponding author.

Analysis of piezoelectric and surface properties of the biomimetic scaffolds using atomic force microscopy. (c) In vivo bone regeneration micro-CT analysis, (d) schematic representation of filler-derived electrical origins in bone regeneration. (CREDIT: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces)

Funding for this research came from various sources, including the KAIST Research and Development Team, the KUSTAR-KAIST Joint Research Center, the KAIST Global Singularity Project, and a government-funded Basic Research Project by the National Research Foundation of Korea.


By harnessing the unique properties of hydroxyapatite and piezoelectricity, the developed scaffold shows great potential for advancing regenerative medicine and improving the lives of many in need of bone repair.

For more science news stories check out our New Innovations section at The Brighter Side of News.


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