From enhancing skin regeneration to replacing damaged knee cartilage to making bone marrow transplants more successful, hydrogel technologies have incredible potential to improve the way we treat different medical conditions in patients. A recent breakthrough from scientists in Spain helps to further confirm hydrogel’s incredible ability to revolutionize medicine.
The new biomaterial consists of an injectable hydrogel that can dramatically accelerate the recovery of damaged tendons and muscles by releasing boron, boosting the formation of new muscle fibers.
Developed by scientists at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), the boron-loaded hydrogel is designed to be delivered to the site of damaged muscle via a subcutaneous injection. Once administered, the boron initiates a chain reaction of events that encourage muscle regeneration.
As the boron reaches the injured area, it stimulates a type of protein called integrins, which encourages adhesion between the cells and the extracellular matrix, the supportive scaffolding that enables them to build up on the tissue. This process, in its turn, promotes a greater volume of larger adhesions, which bring together identical muscle cells to create myotubes and in turn new muscle fibers.
According to the study‘s author Dr. Patricia Rico, lab tests have shown the hydrogel’s ability to significantly improve muscle tear treatments, cutting the healing time by half. The team also hopes that the new hydrogel could eventually help with the treatment of aging-related muscle atrophy, as well as inherited types of muscular dystrophy.