Lichun Lu and Xifeng Liu, two scientists at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota have recently found a biodegradable polymer, which will be a breakthrough invention in the medical field. This polymer bone graft is effective for treating spinal injuries. It will adapt to the appropriate size and shape once planted in the body.
This research was presented at the American Chemical Society’s meeting. During the meeting, Lu noted, “We are working on a solution to improve surgical cancer treatments. Removing spinal tumors sometimes requires removing surrounding bone/discs. We’ve created a spongy cage to fill the void in the spine.”
Surgeons can simply plant the capsules into gaps in the spinal cord (caused due to surgery or another injury), and our body’s fluids would then activate the polymer, allowing them to expand to the proper proportions. These sponge-like biodegradable polymers are derived from the dehydrated hydrogel.
The invention will be highly beneficial for cancer patients as the spine is often affected when cancerous cells metastasize. Right now, for addressing spinal tumors, surgeons remove larger portions of the bone, sometimes even the disc. It will cause gaps in the spine, which needs to be filled. These gaps are usually filled with metal spine cages and bone grafts; however, they require a long healing time. The latest polymer innovation can expand in just five to ten minutes and is, therefore, a breakthrough alternative.