silk scaffold

Silk scaffold developed for bone regeneration (IIT Guwahati)

A scaffold made of silk composite functionalised with copper-doped bioactive glass to facilitate faster bone regeneration has been developed by researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati.


The scaffold seeded with stem cells was found to differentiate into bone cells, facilitate growth of blood vessels and successfully integrate the newly formed bone cells with the native bone.

Bone tissue plays multiple roles in our day-to-day functionality. The frequency of accidental bone damage and disorder is increasing worldwide.

Moreover, as the world population continues to grow, the percentage of the elderly population continues to grow, which results in an increased number of bone degenerative diseases.

This increased elderly population pushes the need for artificial bone implants that specifically employ biocompatible materials.


Besides enhancing the strength of the composite, the minerals from the bioglass gets deposited on the composite making it rougher. Bone cells prefer rough surfaces and the scaffold mimics the indigenous bone surface architecture, Bioglass also helps in stem differentiation.

The doped copper plays a crucial role in stabilising the gene responsible for blood vessel formation. The gene, in turn, regulates the downstream angiogenesic factors thus helping blood vessel formation.

Copper also plays a role in attracting endothelial cells (which forms the inner lining of arteries) present nearby to the bone defect site making bloodstream vessel formation possible.

Silk scaffolds in bone tissue engineering

Points to remember

  • The researchers were able to replicate the results in rabbits using functionalised non-mulberry silk composite.
  • Rabbits with scaffolds implanted at the site of bone injury showed successful development of bone cells and integration with the native bone at the end of three months.
  • Commercially available synthetic grafts have a failure rate of about 25% and 30-60% complication rates. This is due to slower bonding with indigenous bone and poor blood vessel growth.

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