According to recent research led by the University of Iowa, it may be possible to grow new bone where it is missing or damaged using a “bio patch.”  The researchers tested a bio patch that regenerates bone by inserting DNA directly into the cells that contains genetic instructions to produce more bone.

How it Works

The DNA used in the bio patch encodes for a platelet-derived growth factor called PDGF-B and causes living bone cells to make proteins that regenerate new bone tissue.  This bio patch successfully regenerated bone to cover skull wounds in live rats and stimulated growth in human bone marrow stromal cells in test tubes.  The results of this study are found in the latest issue of the journal Biomaterials.

Previous research into bone regeneration has yielded some success but has required repeated outside applications of the bone-making proteins to stimulate growth which can become tedious and costly.  This new study with the bio patch is different because it delivers DNA that stimulates the living cells to produce the bone-making proteins from the inside that lead to new growth.

Benefits of the Bio Patch

The benefits of this direct delivery approach are explained by corresponding author and professor at Iowa’s College of Pharmacy Aliasger Salem, “If you deliver just the protein, you have to keep delivering it with continuous injections to maintain the dose.  With our method, you get local, sustained expression over a prolonged period of time without having to give continued doses of protein.”

The research team made their bio patch out of a collagen scaffold that was seeded with synthetically made, nano-sized plasmids carrying DNA with genetic instructions for bone production.  Scaffolds both seeded and unseeded with the DNA were placed in small holes of rat skulls and after four weeks, the seeded scaffolds grew 44 times more bone than the unseeded scaffolds and 14 times more than untreated wounds.  Professor Salem explains how the bio patch works, “The delivery mechanism is the scaffold loaded with the plasmid.  When cells migrate into the scaffold, they meet with the plasmid,  they take up the plasmid and they get the encoding to start producing PDGF-B, which enhances bone regeneration.”


The bio patch developed by these researchers can potentially be applied in dentistry to rebuild areas of jawbone that have been damaged by gum disease.  This would especially benefit patients in need of dental implants who do not have enough bone in the affected area to support the implant.  Researchers are now looking to enhance the abilities of the bio patch by developing techniques to generate new blood vessels that support new bone growth.