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Carve a New Femur: Bone Implants Created from Wood

DiscoblogBy Boonsri DickinsonAugust 13, 2009 7:25 PM


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Bone implants are typically made of metal or ceramic materials made of aluminum oxide or zirconium oxide. However, when these implants are actually implanted into the body, they can lead to a serious problem—when the bone tries to grow into the implant, it may cause more bone breaks than it prevents. Now, Italian scientists have developed a way to make artificial bone from wood— red oak, rattan, and sipo to be exact. The process involves heating a block of wood until turns into charcoal, then spraying it with calcium. Then the wood is processed until it is ready to be shaped into any sized bone you require. This wood-derived bone would heal faster and be more secure than the implants used today. Discovery Channel reports:

"Our purpose is to convert native wood structures into bioactive, inorganic compounds destined to substitute portions of bone," said Anna Tampieri, a scientist at the Instituto Di Scienza E Techologia Dei Materiali Ceramici in Italy.

The price tag for one bone implant would be $850—not bad considering the cost of continually treating more broken bones. Though keep in mind, these implants have only worked in sheep so far. The developers have many more to try out on other large animals before this idea makes its way into hospitals. Related Content: 80beats: Key To Strong Bones DISCOVER: Menopause and Bone Loss

Image: flickr/ cleema

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