Orthopaedic tissue engineering and bone regeneration

Glenn Dickson, Fraser Buchanan, David Marsh, Eileen Harkin-Jones, Uel Little, Mervyn McCaigue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Orthopaedic tissue engineering combines the application of scaffold materials, cells and the release of growth factors. It has been described as the science of persuading the body to reconstitute or repair tissues that have failed to regenerate or heal spontaneously. In the case of bone regeneration 3-D scaffolds are used as a framework to guide tissue regeneration. Mesenchymal cells obtained from the patient via biopsy are grown on biomaterials in vitro and then implanted at a desired site in the patient's body. Medical implants that encourage natural tissue regeneration are generally considered more desirable than metallic implants that may need to be removed by subsequent intervention. Numerous polymeric materials, from natural and artificial sources, are under investigation as substitutes for skeletal elements such as cartilage and bone. For bone regeneration, cells (obtained mainly from bone marrow aspirate or as primary cell outgrowths from bone biopsies) can be combined with biodegradable polymeric materials and/or ceramics and absorbed growth factors so that osteoinduction is facilitated together with osteoconduction; through the creation of bioactive rather than bioinert scaffold constructs. Relatively rapid biodegradation enables advantageous filling with natural tissue while loss of polymer strength before mass is disadvantageous. Innovative solutions are required to address this and other issues such as the biocompatibility of material surfaces and the use of appropriate scaffold topography and porosity to influence bone cell gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalTechnology and Health Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 28 Mar 2007


  • Biodegradable polymers
  • Biomaterials
  • Bone
  • Cell therapy
  • Fracture repair
  • Orthopaedics
  • Tissue engineering


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