PARTNERSHIP WITH CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
As kids grow and develop, there is a region of cartilage at the end of their long bones that can get injured when a bone gets broken. This cartilage provides signals to those bones telling them to grow. If that cartilage can’t signal, then those bones could stop growing or they grow at a curve. Long and painful surgery is usually the only option when this happens.
Melissa Krebs, a chemical and biological engineering professor at Mines, is working with researchers at University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado to develop a way to treat these growth plate injuries with an injection.
“We are developing a hydrogel delivery system, a polymer that can degrade in the body that will hold a drug within it, so that over time, this drug will be released to that injury and provide it the appropriate signals to tell it to heal normally,” said Krebs.
They are planning on using two drugs, each with a specific job. The first will recruit adult stem cells to the injured area. These cells can regenerate cartilage and other tissues. The second drug is a signal that will cause the stem cells to regenerate into cartilage instead of the other tissues that they also have the potential to become.
“We’re targeting growth plates but there are many other applications for bone, cartilage and other tissue within the body,” said Krebs, opening the potential for multiple medical advances.
This research has also received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). The group is currently testing the delivery system in animals with hopes to get it into human studies.
This research stems from the $126 million in non-government grants awarded to Mines researchers during the Transforming Lives campaign. More than 90% of those grants were written by faculty and staff. Securing research funding creates a robust learning environment for Mines students and adds to the prestige of the university. Cutting-edge research propels Mines ahead to become one of the leading STEM and applied sciences universities in the world. Thank you to our dedicated faculty and staff who play the most vital role in advancing the university.