The SBC Histology facility had never worked on the material used in the Hammond lab’s experimental bone implant system before. “Luckily they have incredible equipment and expertise,” says Nisarg Shah, “and they could slice through the implant material to create slides for viewing under the microscope.” After allowing time for the growth factors and other agents infused into the coating of the implant to work in rats, he returned with different stages of bone samples with the embedded implants.
The histology slides showed that the coating induced highly adhesive bone deposition on the implant surface, which integrated with the native bone. “The osteoblasts had filled the spaces in and around the implants with new bone that matured over time just as normal bone does. We observed an unprecedented level of detail in the processes involved in that integration,” says Shah. The coating promoted a very stable bond with the surrounding tissue, reducing the potential for detachment.
But could the biological drugs and biomaterials cause the body to mount an immune response, which could lead to chronic inflammation, cancerous growths, and sarcomas? “Histology helped to confirm that our materials did not induce any of these unwanted processes,” says Shah.
“Thanks to the efforts of the histology facility, our ability to observe this system is unique in the scientific literature,” says Paula Hammond. “We are all very excited to be working at the frontier of understanding, and to apply what we learned here to our ongoing work on targeted drug delivery for bone cancers.”