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Pushing for breakthroughs

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation supports UMMS research on 3D-printed bone grafts, which could help treat pediatric patients with bone cancer

July 2017

pushing for breakthroughs

Early stage research into 3D-printed bone grafts, built from a new material being developed at UMass Medical School, could help treat bone and tissue damage in pediatric patients with bone cancer. The scientist conducting that work got some crucial support from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation: a $250,000 grant.

Jie Song, PhD, UMMS associate professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation, received an Innovation Grant from the foundation to further her research of 3D-printed self-fitting shape memory grafts for smart pediatric skeletal reconstruction.

“The innovation grant encourages experienced researchers in the field to push for breakthroughs in childhood cancers, ultimately leading to new clinical interventions,” said Jay Scott, foundation co-executive director.

The materials used for printing the 3D scaffolds can potentially be loaded with therapeutic stem cells or proteins that a patient needs to heal. In addition to treating children with bone cancer, Dr. Song told said that the material can be used for treatment of traumatic battlefield injuries and dental bone reconstruction.

The material development is in the early stages of research.

“This particular grant allows us to explore using animal models to try to demonstrate the feasibility for reconstruction of bone using this scaffold,” Song said, adding that further studies are necessary before the product can potentially be used in humans.

“Once we see promising results we need to move to large animal studies, and it has traditionally been challenging to fundraise for those studies because they are so expensive,” said Song in a July 2017 interview with Worcester News Tonight. “And once we see good results in those studies, we can move on to clinical trials.”

Song is one of 19 researchers to receive a 2017 Innovation Grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to finding cure for all children with cancer.

See the full Worcester News Tonight interview here: