Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Building Bones
26 May 2013

Building Bones

Far from being the brittle, dry sticks of a skeleton, our bones are living, growing tissue. Unfortunately their capacity to heal is limited, so researchers are working on artificial materials that could help regenerate them. Most of these compounds are very hard and have to be drilled into place or carved to the correct shape, and it’s tough for living bone cells to grow into them. But a new, softer material – made from a mixture of calcium phosphate-based cement and a special type of glass – seems to be much easier to handle and encourages bones to repair themselves. These CT scans show damaged leg bones from rabbits transplanted with the new material (centre and right columns) or calcium cement alone (left). After a few weeks, bone cells have started invading the mixed material, making it look pitted and spongy – exactly what’s needed to make strong new bones.

Written by Kat Arney

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