Injuries of bones and ligaments are a frequent consequence of trauma, such as traffic accidents, osteoporosis-related fractures and sports injuries. A quick and full recovery of these injuries is of great importance. In some cases, the treatment is especially challenging due to the compromised healing and regenerative potential of the tissue, resulting either from damage to blood supply, systemic conditions or advanced patient age. In order to reach successful healing of such injuries, surgical intervention and tissue grafting are often required.
The group under the clinical leadership of Thomas Nau and area manager Darja Marolt Presen is developing new approaches to improve bone and ligament regeneration. The overall focus is on the development of tissue replacement materials and biological tissue substitutes with enhanced functionality. The research areas encompass:
- Novel osteosynthesis materials and bone substitutes, involving combinations of scaffolds, growth factors, stem cells and pre-vascularization approaches
- Advanced non-viral gene therapy approaches for bone regeneration
- Advanced scaffolds for ligament regeneration
- Approaches for bone tissue regeneration in elderly patients with compromised native regenerative potential
- Novel biomarkers associated with increased risk for bone injury and degenerative joint diseases
The approaches are examined regarding their efficiency and ethical justifiability in practice. Working in close collaboration with clinicians, a particular focus is placed on the strategies supporting translation into practice. For example, in the area of ligament regeneration, a new approach to regenerate the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was developed. Silk was used to build a scaffold that can be colonized with endogenous cells after the implantation into the damaged area, to promote ligament regeneration and bone integration. Silk-based biomaterials are especially useful in tissue regeneration since they show high tissue compatibility and mechanical strength.
Bernhard J, Ferguson J, Rieder B, Heimel P, Nau T, Tangl S, Redl H, Vunjak-Novakovic G (2017). Tissue-engineered hypertrophic chondrocyte grafts enhanced long bone repair. Biomaterials, Sep;139:202-212.
Teuschl A, Heimel P, Nürnberger S, van Griensven M, Redl H & Nau T (2016). A Novel Silk Fiber-Based Scaffold for Regeneration of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament: Histological Results From a Study in Sheep. Am J Sports Med, 44(6):1547-1557.
Kocijan R, Muschitz C, Geiger E, Skalicky S, Baierl A, Dormann R, Plachel F, Feichtinger X, Heimel P, Fahrleitner-Pammer A, Grillari J, Redl H, Resch H & Hackl M (2016). Circulating microRNA Signatures in Patients With Idiopathic and Postmenopausal Osteoporosis and Fragility Fractures. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 01(11):4125-4134.
Kaipel M, Schützenberger S, Hofmann AT, Ferguson J, Nau T, Redl H & Feichtinger GA (2014). Evaluation of fibrin-based gene-activated matrices for BMP2/7 plasmid codelivery in a rat nonunion model. Int Orthop, 38(12):2607-2613.