Researchers have invented a synthetic soft tissue substitute that is well tolerated and encourages the growth of soft tissue and blood vessels. This new material retains its shape without being too dense, overcoming challenges with current tissue fillers that tend to be either too soft or not porous enough to let cells move in and start regrowing tissue.

The composite exhibited the similar shape retention as the 150-Pa hydrogel at POD 42. (Credit: Johns Hopkins)

They started with a so-called hydrogel made of hyaluronic acid, but the hydrogel alone cannot retain its shape while retaining porosity. So they added another material to the hydrogel to help give it some stiffness. The research team turned to polycaprolactone (PCL) fibers, the same material used in some resorbable stitches. The composite nanofibers were well spread out and created a structure similar to that of fat.

Over a period of several weeks, rats injected with the composite developed new blood vessels within the injected composite, whereas rats injected with only hydrogel didn't show substantial blood vessel formation.

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Medical Design Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2019 issue of Medical Design Briefs Magazine.

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