Development offers hope for orthopaedic patients

SINGAPORE - Scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), the world’s first bioengineering and nanotechnology research institute, have developed a new ultrasmall peptide, that offers hope for orthopaedic patients.

The peptides spontaneously assemble in water to form hydrogels, which resemble collagen, a major component of connective tissues found in cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone and skin.

They can be used as building blocks for a wide range of regenerative applications such as spinal disc replacement and cartilage repair.

According to a release by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), degenerative disc disease is currently the predominant cause of disability amongst the adult population, affecting 85% of the population by the age of 50.

Said Dr Charlotte Hauser, IBN team leader and principal research scientist: "This peptide-based approach could offer an alternative to spinal surgery by delaying or even abolishing the need for invasive surgery. Our ultrasmall peptides can also be easily translated to clinical use because they are easy and cost-effective to produce.”