University of Akron research team develops limb-saving technolog - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

University of Akron research team develops limb-saving technology

The polymer shell is inserted into the site of a bone injury to connect broken bones. As the bone grows back, the polymer shell dissolves. (Source: WOIO) The polymer shell is inserted into the site of a bone injury to connect broken bones. As the bone grows back, the polymer shell dissolves. (Source: WOIO)
Professor Matthew Becker holds the specialized plastic piece, that may save limbs. (Source: WOIO) Professor Matthew Becker holds the specialized plastic piece, that may save limbs. (Source: WOIO)
AKRON, OH (WOIO) -

For many soldiers on the battlefield, bone-shattering injuries caused by gunshot wounds or explosions may result in an amputation. Now, polymer technology developed at the University of Akron may save limbs with the use of a specialized plastic. 

Matthew Becker is a polymer science professor at UA and leads the research team, which includes about 25 students. 

"The material is of sufficient grade to be used in humans. Very few institutions have the type of equipment to make parts of this scale. We were able to take our material, that was very early in development, and process it all the way through to a large animal sheep trial," said Becker. 

The bone-regenerating technology was tested using sheep.

The polymer shell is inserted into the site of a bone injury and connects broken bones, like a missing puzzle piece. The shell assists in encouraging bone growth by holding together the injury. As the bone grows back, the polymer shell dissolves. 

This degradable polymer material the research team developed is unprecedented. 

Becker says it will take at least another year before the government begins to test the technology, and there's no certainty of when it will be used with humans. Still, he says it's a great achievement for the university. 

"It validates that this type of work is going on here and if it relates to polymers, we're doing it," said Becker. 

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