Sugar-coated nanomaterial may promote bone growth

Wednesday, August 30, 2017



We have heard it all our lives: too much sugar is bad for your teeth. Scientists from Northwestern University, USA however have developed a sugar-coated nanomaterial which can actually stimulate bone growth. Although the study was specifically concerned with promoting bone growth for spinal fusion, it is believed that the technology could also be applied to dental implants.


During the in vivo study, specially synthesised sugar molecules were added to a nanomaterial. Researchers then studied the effect the nanomaterial had on the activity of a clinically used growth factor called BMP-2. This growth factor is used to promote bone regeneration, but it is required in large quantities in order to be effective. This can be expensive and cause potentially dangerous side-effects.

Researchers found that when the sugar-coated nanomaterial was used, 100 times less BMP-2 was required to achieve the desired result. They concluded that the sugar molecules are essential to the success of the experiment. They have been synthesised to closely resemble those found in nature which activate BMP-2’s growth-stimulating capabilities.

The sugar-coated nanomaterial could have wide-ranging applications such as treating bone trauma and bone cancer, as well as promoting bone growth around dental implants. The researchers also believe that it may have the potential to stimulate growth in other kinds of tissue as well. The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.