The process of bone healing requires the restoration of both anatomy and physiology, and there is a recognized need for innovative biomaterials that facilitate remodeling throughout this complex process. While porous scaffolds with a high degree of interconnectivity are known to accelerate cellular infiltration and new bone formation, the presence of pores significantly diminishes the initial mechanical properties of the materials, rendering them largely unsuitable for load-bearing applications. In this study, a family of non-porous composites has been fabricated by reactive compression molding of mineralized allograft bone particles (MBPs) with a biodegradable polyurethane (PUR) binder, which is synthesized from a polyester polyol and a lysine-derived polyisocyanate. At volume fractions exceeding the random close-packing limit, the particulated allograft component presented a nearly continuous osteoconductive pathway for cells into the interior of the implant. By varying the molecular weight of the polyol and manipulating the surface chemistry of the MBP via surface demineralization, compressive modulus and strength values of 3-6 GPa and 107-172 MPa were achieved, respectively. When implanted in bilateral femoral condyle plug defects in New Zealand White rabbits, MBP/PUR composites exhibited resorption of the allograft and polymer components, extensive cellular infiltration deep into the interior of the implant, and new bone formation at 6 weeks. While later in vivo timepoints are necessary to determine the ultimate fate of the MBP/PUR composites, these observations suggest that allograft bone/polymer composites have potential for future development as weight-bearing devices for orthopedic applications.
Copyright 2010 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.