Tricking bone cells to fight osteoporosis

Title of the research project

BOOST – Biomimetic trick to re-balance osteoblast-osteoclast loop in osteoporosis treatment: a topological and materials driven approach

Scientific area  

Material Science, Biotechnology, Biomaterials, Bioengineering

Project coordinator

Chiara Vitale-Brovarone

Abstract

Osteoporosis is characterized by very fragile bone tissue as a consequence of an unbalancement between two different cellular types: osteoblasts taking care of bone deposition and osteoclasts in charge of bone resorption. BOOST wants to manufacture a scaffold that could mimic healthy bone features and thus could rebalance osteoblast and osteoclast coupling, inducing them to behave like in a healthy tissue.

Description of the research project 

The fight against osteoporosis currently entails prevention, through a healthy lifestyle, and drug therapy. BOOST project will open a new frontier research focused on the synergistic effect of materials, topography and growth factors on bone cells.

Bone architecture is not fixed as we might think, instead it is the result of a dynamic balance between bone tissue deposition by osteoblasts and bone resorption by osteoclasts, in a continuous and endless process called bone re-modelling. When there is an uncoupling in the cooperative action of osteoblasts and osteoclasts, bone becomes more fragile and osteoporosis generally occurs.

The challenge of BOOST is to recreate, by means of a smart scaffold, the physical and chemical constraints that contribute to coordinating resorption and formation with the ambitious goal of rebalancing the coupling of osteoclasts and osteoblasts through the synergistic effect of a set of engineered stimuli.

The smart scaffold will be able, eventually, to induce aged cells to act again as healthy ones, opening a new frontier research to target important bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

 

Impact on society  

Around the globe one out of three women and one out of 5 men are likely to experience osteoporosis in their lifetime. This means a new osteoporotic fracture every 3 and a half seconds, generating a high cost for the health services of each country, growing more and more because of demographic changes and increase in life expectation time.

BOOST results will bring to the foreground the enormous potential of materials science in the biomedical field proving conclusively the need for cutting-edge materials –based research able to beneficially change our life quality in a 10-year-time frame.

Impatto sulla società 

Around the globe one out of three women and one out of 5 men are likely to experience osteoporosis in their lifetime. This means a new osteoporotic fracture every 3 and a half seconds, generating a high cost for the health services of each country, growing more and more because of demographic changes and increase in life expectation time.

BOOST results will bring to the foreground the enormous potential of materials science in the biomedical field proving conclusively the need for cutting-edge materials –based research able to beneficially change our life quality in a 10-year-time frame.

Video

Short CV of project coordinator

Full professor in Materials Science and Technology at the Department of Applied Science and Technology of Politecnico di Torino. Her main research interest is in biomaterials for medical applications.

Master Degree in Materials Engineering in 1997, PhD in Materials Engineering at Politecnico di Torino in 2001, she has won fellowships for research stays at the Ecole de Chimie de Montpellier in France and at the  Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, USA. She has authored 115 papers on international journals, h-index 25.

She has coordinated EU-funded projects (MATCH, BIORESS) and she has been team leader for the EU project RESTORATION. At present, she is coordinating the H2020 project MOZART.

Research group

At Politecnico di Torino:

Sonia Fiorilli, Paola Palmero, Giorgia Novajra, Alessandra Bari, Giulia Molino, Carlotta Pontremoli, Davide Janner, Giorgia Montalbano

External collaborations:

Giovanni Vozzi, Università di Pisa
Monica Mattioli Belmonte Cima, Università Politecnica delle Marche
Gabriela Ciapetti, Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli

   BOOST project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme  grant agreement No 648008

  • Budget: 1.977.500
  • Start date: 1/05/2016
  • End date: 30/04/2021