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Magnetically-directed nanoparticles could help heal broken bones


However, a graft that removes bone from another area of the body can be a painful and invasive procedure, and the mechanical stimulation required for continued bone regeneration in post-operative therapy becomes problematic if a patient is severely immobilized. To address these problems, researchers have discovered that coating magnetic nanoparticles with proteins and then directing them magnetically to the site of the injury can help stimulate stem cells to regenerate bone.

Bones that have been grafted are best healed using methods of dynamic loading – that is, movement and exercise – to promote what is known as mechanotransduction, where the physical bonding and subsequent mechanical stimulation of grafted bone causes a cascade effect of biochemical signals, hormone release, stem cell regeneration, tissue growth, and a myriad other processes that all combine to ensure efficient repair.

Unfortunately, when complications, such as the immobilization of a patient, precludes the application of dynamic loading or a medical condition, such as a skeletal disorder, means that they simply lack the extra bone required for grafting, then recovery is often a long, slow, complicated process that is all too often partially or completely unsuccessful.

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