A Cost-Effective Hydrogel-Growth Factor Complex to Improve Bone Healing


To develop safe, effective, and inexpensive implant materials to promote bone regeneration

Anticipated Impact: 

New cost-effective technologies for stimulating bone healing in both humans and animals


Approximately 8 million fractures are sustained each year in the U.S., of which 5-10% exhibit impaired healing that requires surgical intervention. Increased bone fragility and impaired healing are prevalent in the elderly, which presents an increasing burden of care as the population ages. Bone healing is also important for integration of dental implants into the jaw. There is a critical need for inexpensive implant materials containing bone healing stimulators that can be handled easily by surgeons. The investigators have identified a growth factor that promotes bone healing in preclinical models with no apparent toxicity and can be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of currently available bone healing stimulators. The research team will embed this growth factor in proprietary "hydrogels" to create an implant that will release the factor in a controlled fashion. In collaboration with Washington State University, they will then test the ability of the hydrogel-growth factor implants to stimulate bone regeneration in preclinical studies. If successful, the investigators will continue development and pursue commercial licensing of the implants for both human and veterinary clinical use.

Grant period ended early due to Dr. Karin’s departure from Battelle-Pacific Northwest Division.

 See also:

Bone Healing

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Norman Karin
Grantee Organization:
Battelle-Pacific Northwest Division
Grant Title:
A cost-effective hydrogel-growth factor complex to improve bone healing
Grant Cohort and Year:
2009 Project Grant (01)
Grant Period:
01/04/2010 - 07/20/2012 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
Collaborating Organizations:
Washington State University
PLGA-PEG hydrogels containing different doses of LPA were implanted into small surgically-introduced defects in the long bones of laboratory animals and healing was monitored over 12 weeks. The results indicated that the hydrogels themselves had an inhibitory effect on bone regeneration, negating our ability to evaluate LPA as a stimulant of skeletal healing. A revised strategy was developed for the final project year that employs collagen sponges to deliver LPA. This sponge material has a long history of success as an orthopedic implant material in animals and humans and it is extremely unlikely to have adverse effects on bone repair.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
8, 9

Health Impacts

Bone Healing