The researcher trio behind this creation - Newell Washburn, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski and Jeffrey Hollinger - says that their hydrogels have already shown promising results in encouraging the growth of preosteoblast cells, cells that aid the growth and development of bone.
"Tissue engineering is an exciting field. We're creating solutions to problems that can significantly impact people's quality of life. These gels have great promise in not only regenerating bone, but serving as a gene therapy delivery system," said Washburn, an assistant professor of chemistry and biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon.
The researchers have revealed that they created a flexible hydrogel using biologically active and degradable hyaluronic acid.
They say that, in lab experiments, the hydrogels promoted cell proliferation, differentiation and mineralization of pre-osteoblast cells.
Further research by the group has created a hybrid hydrogel that incorporates a nanogel structure.
The researchers have revealed that the new hydrogel promotes the differentiation of cells, much like the hyaluronic acid gel, while also releasing nanogels in a controlled and targeted manner.
They hope that this structure could be used to partner tissue engineering with gene therapy.
A presentation on the research was made on Sunday at the 236th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.