Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Bone Clone

Computer modelling reveals the secrets of bone strength

19 January 2020

Bone Clone

Found near the ends of our most stressed bones, trabeculae, are crisscross structures similar to shock absorbing beams and columns found inside skyscrapers. Although 1000 times smaller – the patterns of plates and rods in bone make them especially strong. Researchers built computer models of our tiny bone buildings, testing them to destruction with different stresses and strains. Recreating the strongest patterns in this blue polymer, they discovered designs that may be bio-mimicked in the design of real buildings. Their models also suggest the secret to lasting bone strength is the thickness of the horizontal beams (seen running through the diamond-shaped holes here). Making these 30% thicker increased the lifetime of the material a hundred times, One day these designs may influence transplants for sufferers of osteoporosis, where trabeculae are often lost.

Written by John Ankers

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