Bio Patch Shows Promise for Regenerating, Growing Bone

Bagram HospitalResearchers at the University of Iowa have developed a bio patch that helps to regenerate and grow damaged bone, possibly meaning a new way of treating wounds.

The patch is a collagen “scaffold” seeded with synthetically created plasmids – self-replicating DNA molecules – for producing bone. Researchers reported that the bio patch led to significant bone regeneration and growth in animal lab testing.

Aliasger Salem, a professor of pharmaceutical science and director of the school’s College of Pharmacy, said the technology could be applied to a range of injuries, including arm and leg fractures and craniofacial damage.

With further development, the bio patch could mean improved treatment and healing for severely injured troops and veterans.

University spokesman Richard Lewis said in an announcement that scaffolds with and without the plasmids were inserted over a 5-millimeter by 2-millimeter missing area of skull in test animals and then monitored for four weeks.

The bio patch grew 44-times more bone and soft tissue in the affected area, and was 14-fold higher, than grew using the scaffold alone. And scans revealed that the plasmid-encoded scaffolds had generated enough new bone growth to nearly close the wound area, Lewis said.

The research is being carried out by Salem and Satheesh Elangovan, assistant professor at the university’s College of Dentistry.

“This is still in the very early stages,” Salem said. “We still have substantial work to do to make sure it’s safe, that there are no bad side effects.”

Still, Salem said he can see the potential of the bio patch used even in first-response situations.

“I would argue that anything done in a clinic is better, because it’s a sterile environment, there are doctors to perform it,” Salem told “But if you have an exposed wound and bone fracture, I could imagine this would be a step taken as part of the initial treatment.”

Bone patch

About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.
  • dcanaday

    How are they harvesting the Adam required to activate the plasmid?

    • Kuzinov

      The new Little Sister cadet program.

  • Xavier Capdevila

    Hello, congrats for that health step—forward .
    Regards from Barcelona,
    00 34 622 27 01 47

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  • This is more than 3 years ago and still not hear any update on this technology. Is this a failure or the product is being provided for specific group of person only?

    • blight_

      Most basic science researchers aren’t incentivized to do more than proof of concept. You get research funding to prove something is possible, and so you deliver that to your “investor”.

      Many products die at this point. Sometimes startups try to use the research and move ahead. Sometimes they can’t reproduce everything and the startup fizzles. Sometimes the university sees profit and puts seed money into it. But if the results are published and part of the scientific literature, anyone with the lab facilities can take a stab at it.

  • This new discovery is being seen as a firm promise to do better than other earlier innovations in this genre, as those generally focus on healing from the outside, while the bio patch is directly healing the cells from inside. Not only that, it is way cheaper than the existing alternatives. And it needs to be done only once while the others need repeated treatments for the bones to fully recover.