UA Little Rock researcher studies how nanomaterials can speed healing in bone wounds

Dr. Shawn Bourdo, research assistant professor at the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has received an $85,500 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how certain nanomaterials may enhance healing in bone wounds.

The project, led by Dr. Madhu Dhar at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will investigate the effect that graphene nanomaterials have on bone cell growth. The team hopes that these nanomaterials will be able to stimulate cell growth to promote tissue and bone healing. Based on the results, the researchers will understand the cell-nanomaterial interaction which will provide clues on how to tailor the nanomaterials for increased cellular response. Eventually, this research may have major benefits for individuals who suffer from bone fractures, trauma, and diseases.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the work is that preliminary data shows that these materials can stimulate stem cells to grow into bone cells without any external growth factors,” Bourdo said. “The work we are undertaking will provide some of the first clues as to how graphene-based materials influence the cellular pathways that lead to bone formation.”

Bourdo will be joined in his work by an undergraduate student and Dr. Alexandru Biris, director and chief scientist at the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences. This project will provide new research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students at both UA Little Rock and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, materials chemistry, and veterinary and human medicine.

This project is funded through the NIH’s Academic Research Enhancement Award program. The goal of this program is to support meritorious research, enhance opportunities for undergraduate and graduate student researchers, and strengthen the research environment of schools that have not been major recipients of NIH support.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R15AR070460. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Contributing Editor: Lydia Perry / Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

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