Immune system inhibitors released by new biomaterial may stop rejection

Written by Alexander Marshall

Immune system inhibitors slowly released by biodegradable scaffolds may allow regenerative medicine to bypass implant rejection.

Researchers from Tomsk Polytechnic University (Russia) have produced a new biomaterial implant that hopes to avoid irritation caused by the immune system. In collaboration with the University of Montana (MT, USA), the researchers have designed the new biodegradable implant, which they hope will eventually be used in the treatment of bone and soft tissue injuries, allowing tissue to regenerate with minimal complications.

The new material is formed through the combination of a polycaprolactone polymer scaffold and immune system inhibitors, allowing for the slow release of the immune system inhibitors as the scaffold is degraded. This is achieved by placing the immune system inhibitors into the scaffold during production and ensures that the inhibitors are released in a gradual manner for the lifespan of the implant.

         We followed a different path and suggest using inhibitors placed directly in the material itself to recover damage,” commented the author of the paper, Ksenia Stankevich (Tomsk Polytechnic University).

Polycaprolactone polymer scaffolding was chosen because of the materials flexibility and affordability, but also because as it degrades it produces biocompatible 6-hydroxycarproic acid. This material was crafted into thin fibers through electrospinning — a process which involves passing the material through an electric field — and during this process inhibitors were introduced.

A wide range of immune system inhibitors are available; however, the researchers chose to use two compounds, IQ-1 and IQ-1E, which they previously demonstrated inhibit the JNK pathway. By combining a biodegradable substance with the inhibitors at the production phase they enabled the careful release of the inhibitors during degradation.

While researchers have so far tested this with immune cells and cell lines, it still needs to be seen whether the material will stand up to scrutiny during in vivo experiments; however, they hope that this new process for designing biomaterial will allow implants to be inserted with minimal rejection. 


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What are biomaterials?

Foreign materials placed within the body often elicit an immune response or result in a displacement of pressure. This can cause severe complications such as necrosis, increased pressure upon other parts of the body, or even cancer. Due to this, a great deal of time and energy has been invested into finding those material that do not.

Biomaterials are a large category of materials that intend to mimic the body’s natural state in a way which does not harm a implant recipient. This involves mimicking the strength, flexibility, durability and biological safety of normal tissues, to ensure minimal complications.