Piezoelectric tissue scaffold helps heal soft tissue injuries

January 18, 2022
Piezoelectric tissue scaffold helps heal soft tissue injuries

Researchers at the University of Connecticut (UConn), US, have developed an electricity-producing implantable material that is claimed to boost the regrowth of damaged joint cartilage. The biocompatible tissue scaffold is made from nanofibers of a poly-L lactic acid (PLLA) polymer interwoven with a piezoelectric material that produces a small electrical current when mechanically stressed.

The researchers believe that a piezoelectric tissue scaffold implanted in an arthritic knee joint, for example, would continuously produce cartilage-boosting electricity when squeezed during activities such as walking.

To test the theory, pieces of the tissue scaffold were placed in the injured knee joints of rabbits, which regularly hopped on a slow-moving treadmill. It was found that after one to two months, strong, robust cartilage proceeded to grow back within the joints; their growth was also unhindered by side effects. A control group that received non-piezoelectric tissue scaffolding, in contrast, experienced little healing of the damaged cartilage.

According to the researchers, conventional tissue scaffolds act as a sort of roosting place for adjacent cells to migrate into and reproduce resulting in a solid piece of biological tissue. However, these types of scaffolding tends to be weaker than the original cartilage, causing it to quickly break down under regular use. The scaffolds made from the new material is expected to perform better than conventional scaffolds.

Read: Implantable stimulator powered by walking to treat damaged tendons

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