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Sudha Agarwal, PhD

Award Name Collaborative/Partnership Pilot Awards
Award Date 12/01/2011


Molecule may provide better, faster options for bone reconstruction

Sudha Agarwal, PhD, a professor in Oral Biology and Orthopedics, was awarded a pilot grant from the CCTS for her research involving the repair and regeneration of bone.

Agarwal is studying the effect of exercise on bone formation at the molecular level.  “While exercise is well known to strengthen bones,” Agarwal said, “how this is regulated in the body is unclear.” 

After examining several pathways to find how bones are strengthened by exercise, Agarwal and her team identified a molecule, Bone remodeling Factor-1 (BRF-1), which regulates bone strengthening / bone deposition via bone remodeling. 

“This information inspired us to look into whether we can induce bone growth in the body using tissue engineering techniques,” Agarwal said.

Agarwal hopes to learn how to use tissue engineering techniques to repair and regenerate bone. Currently, repairing large bone defects is challenging due to the unavailability of patients’ own bone, sometimes referred to as autologous bone.  

Ideally, bone engineered from existing tissue would allow doctors to induce bone formation when other techniques are not available. If effective, this process would help individuals suffering from problems requiring bone repair like trauma, bone loss due to aging and spinal cord injuries.

“To make tissue that can engineer bones, we require bone cells, stem cells, proteins or genes that are delivered in a scaffold to induce bone formation,” Agarwal said. “We believe that the BRF-1 molecule can be used for such an application.”

Typically, tissue engineered scaffolds take weeks to create, which is a critical problem for victims of severe trauma and accidents. Agarwal believes that the BRF-1 molecule could be used as a protein to create readily available scaffolds that can induce bone formation at a required site, a process that requires a multidisciplinary team of scientists.

Agarwal hopes her research may help lead to bone repair solutions that are biological, making them less likely to be rejected by the body and more accessible to surgeons for effective bone reconstruction. 

By Jessica Reynolds, Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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