Bone regeneration

Our bone regeneration research will enable the body to regrow bone naturally where it’s needed, providing an alternative to painful and invasive bone grafts

Help us keep developing Pioneering treatments to restore patients’ quality of life that have suffered physical trauma.


Severe bone defects caused by accident, disease or tumour removal are extremely debilitating.  Bone injury or deterioration can affect anyone, but older people face a significantly higher risk of degenerative bone disease and non-healing fractures which often lead to permanent disability.

  • More than 20,000 hip and knee revision surgeries are performed in the UK each year (10% of all replacement surgeries)
  • One in two women and one in five men over 50 suffer a non-healing fracture due to conditions such as osteoporosis
  • Risk increases dramatically with age: 2% of women at 50 have osteoporosis, rising to over 25% at 80
  • Globally, more than 2.5 million bone grafts are carried out each year at a cost of approximately $3.4 billion


Bone defects caused by disease and tumour removal, hip and knee replacement revisions and spinal fusion surgery are currently treated with bone grafts. But this procedure can be fraught with problems, including:

  • A lack of available tissue
  • Pain and non-healing from where bone has been taken
  • Disease transmission if bone is from a donor
  • Infection
  • Rejection of the bone graft when the bone graft is from a donor
  • Inconsistent bone quality


RAFT is developing and testing ‘scaffolds’ that will encourage bone to regenerate – quite literally allowing new bone to grow wherever it’s needed within the body.

RAFT’s bone regeneration research scientists are working to create off-the-shelf artificial bone graft alternatives that will overcome the problems associated with harvesting bone grafts and provide an alternative to this painful and invasive procedure, bringing effective treatment to millions.


RAFT has developed SmartCaP®, a novel composite biomaterial which will be used for the treatment of bone defects. This material contains two key components which, in combination, will mimic the molecular structure of natural bone:

  1. A porous biomaterial, developed by RAFT, which has been proven to generate new blood vessels; something that is essential for the growth of new bone
  2. Calcium Phosphate; a mineral found naturally in bone which plays an important role in giving the material its osteogenic (bone-forming) properties

The new material will be suitable for filling bone defects anywhere in the body, including hip and knee revision surgeries and spinal fusion treatment. It could also be potentially used in dental applications.

RAFT’s research partners for this bone regeneration research are:

  • Prof Jonathan Knowles, Professor of Biomaterials Science, Eastman Dental Institute, UCL, London
  • Prof Gordon W Blunn, Professor of Bioengineering, University of Portsmouth and Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science, Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, UCL, London
  • Dr Martyn Snow, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham
  • Dr Alodia Orera, Materials Scientist, Aragon Institute of Materials Science and University of Zaragoza, Spain


Allowing bone to regenerate within the body will eliminate the need for bone grafts, providing significant benefits for both patients and the healthcare system, including:

  • Reducing the level of disability caused by bone injury and degenerative bone disease
  • Helping older patients to regain their independence and mobility
  • Reducing the number of invasive operations currently required for patients suffering from bone injuries or disease
  • Reducing the time spent in hospital due to fewer operations and the need for recurring treatment
  • Enabling people to recover faster from treatment for degenerative bone disease
  • A much less painful procedure than bone grafting, because the patient’s own bone regrows
  • Less anxiety and stress for the patient.


  • Ms Nazanin Owji
  • Assoc Prof Elena Garcia