Researchers have developed a biomaterial using near-infrared (NIR) light irradiation that can help repair bone defects. Another key factor is that the material is also biodegradable and has the ability to produce products like water and carbon dioxide, which is essential for bone growth.
Traditionally, thermal therapy has been used to treat bone regeneration. However, it does come with drawbacks as it is has been found to be inefficient in delivering sufficient amounts of heat to the right area on the patient's body. This may cause side effects like surface burns.
NIR light, on the other hand, is electromagnetic radiation and has longer wavelengths. It is often used as a photothermal therapy to release heat because of its higher transmittance through biological tissues.
Researchers, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and City University of Hong Kong, created the implantable bio-composite from black phosphorus nanomaterial and a tissue-engineering chemical compound. It can repair bone defects, as well as promote bone growth. Phosphorus constitutes around 1 per cent of the total human body weight. The team found it can increase the temperature under the NIR light irradiation even when it is covered by a tissue barrier as thick as 7 mm.
The team experimented the material on rats. The results showed the most effective target temperature by the NIR light-trigger is between 39.5 and 40.5 degrees Celsius.Lead author Tong Liping now hopes to conduct clinical trials to further understand the material's potential.
The study was originally published in the journal Biomaterials.