Bone has a remarkable regeneration potential. Thus, when bone fractures due to e.g. accidents, usually bone repairs itself. However, during ageing and disease, this potential is markedly reduced, requiring the need for biomaterials to enhance this process. The material that is brought in is expected to mimic bone function and integrate into a living organism.
In this research field, we study the potential of extracellular matrix components, such as glycosaminoglycans (GAG) to accelerate bone regeneration. Since GAGs are natural components of bone, we assume a high biocompatibility that can be used to increase bone healing without adverse effects. Over the last 3 years, we have shown that highly sulfated hyaluronan-based GAG can bind and neutralize sclerostin, an important brake signal for bone formation. We now assess whether GAGs are able to inactivate other negative regulators of bone repair. We test these biomaterials in rodent fracture and bone healing models. Our aim is to develop smart biomaterials that enhance bone regeneration, even under compromised conditions.