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The scaffold that bites
More than 19 million Americans have no teeth. Another 113 million are missing at least one tooth. Dentures and dental implants offer viable alternatives for many patients. But thousands of others have extensive damage; their tissue and bone structure are not strong enough to anchor an implant or artificial tooth. Scaffolds will eventually repair the damage.
We are focusing on bone regeneration, said Kyumin Whang, Ph.D., assistant professor of restorative dentistry in the division of biomaterials. We received a patent for a process to fabricate scaffolds, and we are in the midst of proving the concept for a novel material, called OG-PLG, that has the potential to regenerate bone.
The group is working on scaffold biomaterials reinforced with hydroxyapatite, a mineral found in bone. Hydroxyapatite coating should enable implants to more closely mimic natural bone. These scaffolds should be better at integrating with living tissue and should exhibit better biomechanics and porosity, allowing newly forming bone cells and blood vessels to enter the pores of the scaffolds for faster regeneration, said Neera Satsangi, Ph.D., a Dental School researcher studying the essential properties of the successful scaffold.
Dr. Satsangi said the scaffold must provide a structure for regenerating tissue at the site of wound healing. She said it should release bioactive substances at controlled rates, inducing the cells to perform the process of regeneration. It should release substances to directly influence the behavior of tissue-implant interactions and it should gradually disintegrate itself to pave the way for growing regenerative tissue.