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Medicine Science

Injectable Artificial Bone Developed 105

Posted by kdawson
from the no-op dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with the news that British scientists have invented artificial "injectable bone" that flows like toothpaste and hardens in the body. This new regenerative medicine technology provides a scaffold for the formation of blood vessels and bone tissue, then biodegrades. The injectable bone can also deliver stem cells directly to the site of bone repair, the researchers say. "Not only does the technique reduce the need for dangerous surgery, it also avoids damaging neighboring areas, said [the inventor]. The technology's superiority over existing alternatives is the novel hardening process and strength of the bond... Older products heat up as they harden, killing surrounding cells, whereas 'injectable bone' hardens at body temperature — without generating heat — making a very porous, biodegradable structure."
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Injectable Artificial Bone Developed

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  • Inject someone, let it form a scaffold for tissue to clot and block vital organs, and then it degrades, leaving no trace. Sure beats those KGB umbrella poison injectors.
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @12:54AM (#26129131)

      So I'm not the only one missing the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        You inject some experimental bone growth component in some random guy, next thing you know you have a rampaging monster with indestructible bone growths killing Superman and inflicting the cash-grabbing "Funeral for a Friend" crossover storyline...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just about everything from this to a piece of string could be used as a grisly murder weapon, although this seems a like a novel discovery thats a lot has interesting practical uses.

      • Just about everything from this to a piece of string could be used as a grisly murder weapon, although this seems a like a novel discovery thats a lot has interesting practical uses.

        Yes, but how many murder weapons then leave the crime scene picture-perfect - "They died of natural causes - a clot in a vital organ | artery | whatever"?

        • seriously? alot more than you can possibly imagine.
          this line of thought is surprisingly deficient in logic

          this guy has it right:

          Just about everything from this to a piece of string could be used as a grisly murder weapon

    • by corsec67 (627446) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @01:14AM (#26129271) Homepage Journal

      Wouldn't killing the host cause the degradation to cease?

      Plus, it wouldn't exactly "leave no trace". If it caused organs to fail, there would have to be enough to detect, and the dead person wouldn't excrete anything, so it would all be there.

      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:45AM (#26130557)

        Plus, it wouldn't exactly "leave no trace". If it caused organs to fail, there would have to be enough to detect, and the dead person wouldn't excrete anything, so it would all be there.

        The prototype works on the honour system. When the person gets injected, they agree not to die straightaway, to give the poison time to leave the system. After a few days, when they get a certain phone call they're expected to drop dead.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomhudson (43916)
        If you manage to get tissue forming in, say, a vital artery, who's to say that they won't drop dead long after the tissue is formed? Take a look at today's obese 15-year-olds with the arteries of 45-year-olds. They'll die earlier, but it's not directly traceable to which of the 50 Big Macs a month they're eating today.
    • by eebra82 (907996)
      It also sounds like a great healing tool in battle. I'm sure many amputations can be avoided in the future if trained medics know where to apply it when it really matters.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        No, that's super glue (surgical cyanoacrolate).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cnettel (836611)
        Nah, damaged bone is rarely a reason for amputation in itself, although you can surely be incapacitated. If you manage to keep bloodflow and avoid infection, you can always try to patch it up somehow later on, with varying degrees of outside intervention to the natural healing process.
    • by LS (57954)

      Is it going to degrade after the person dies? I would assume it degrades because the LIVING person's body flushes it out of the system. If the person died while this was stuck in their artery, it probably wouldn't degrade.

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by tomhudson (43916)

        Is it going to degrade after the person dies? I would assume it degrades because the LIVING person's body flushes it out of the system. If the person died while this was stuck in their artery, it probably wouldn't degrade.

        People die long after they dumped the burger that made that fatal fat deposit ... the beauty of this is that the scaffoldig breaks down, the tissue starts floating around, and who knows WHERE it ends up? If there's a brain clot, nobody's going to track its' former place of residence to

  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fatboyslack (634391) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @12:57AM (#26129155) Journal

    Apart from the typical 'viagra for your bones' innuendo gags this is actually a pretty amazing feat...

    I just wonder what it 'biodegrades' into... and if you really want that in your bloodstream.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @01:03AM (#26129191)

      I just wonder what it 'biodegrades' into... and if you really want that in your bloodstream.

      It would be my guess that if it is considered to be "biodegradable" in the human body, they mean that it is fully and wholly metabolized by the human body without generating any inflammatory or toxic reaction. There are several polymers which fit this scenario, such as one based on glycolic acid and lactic acid. The cool thing about this stuff is its rigidity and lack of tissue damage. /me isn't close to a medical student, but google can make me sound like I am.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AgentPaper (968688) *

        You're right - for a product to be considered "absorbable" or "degradable" in patient care, the product has to eventually break down to compounds that the body naturally metabolizes. Classic example: Vicryl (tm), polyglactin 910 (90% glycolide/10% lactide polymer) suture. Water causes it to break down into glycolic acid and lactic acid, usually over the course of 56 days in tissue (unless it's placed in a wet environment, in which case it breaks down faster.) Both compounds are things your body generate

    • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @01:18AM (#26129295) Homepage Journal

      This is extremely old news - The injectable bone story was covered by the Sun [thesun.co.uk] two years ago....

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fatboyslack (634391)

        Ha! funny... the sun should be the source of all my tech new from now on it seems

      • by pallmall1 (882819)

        The injectable bone story was covered by the Sun [thesun.co.uk] two years ago....

        Yeah, it was covered on Page 3 [page3.com].

        Hey Beavis ... injectable bone... heh heh.

    • Dental Applications? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sanman2 (928866)
      Okay, if they can do it for bones, can they do it for dental repair?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fatboyslack (634391)

        I'm not sure if I would want my teeth to biodegrade just quietly.

      • by cnettel (836611) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @09:18AM (#26131483)
        Bones are continuously maintained in a way quite different from most of a tooth. This is a trick to give the normal process to replenish bone and repair broken bones to a headstart and some basic structure to get the final layout right. Triggering the growth of a new tooth in situ is a quite different thing, especially to get the outer layers right, without which it would indeed be quite biodegradeable in any mouth.
      • by 3waygeek (58990) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @09:24AM (#26131533)

        About 5 years ago, I had an apicoectomy to treat a chronically abscessed tooth. The abscess had been around long enough to eat away some of the bone surrounding the root. The oral surgeon replaced the missing bone with a special mixture of cadaver bone in a protein matrix. Since it was open surgery and the root end of the tooth was exposed, he just packed it in there the same way a bricklayer would pack mortar into a joint. It seems reasonable that it could also be injected if one had a wide enough needle so that the bone bits wouldn't get stuck.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by QMO (836285)

          So, when people at work call you Frankenstein, do you remind them that Frankenstein was the doctor, not the guy made out of dead bodies?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by hierophanta (1345511)
          i believe the difference is that your dentist used the cadaver bone and protein mix to create a mortar type substance (like you said) - that is just to fill the space up. but the bone is not live i.e. -- if it gets damaged it wont heal it self, there are no nerves in it, and your body wont naturally maintain it
          • by JWSmythe (446288) *

            I've had two teeth pulled. For the first, I went to the dentist I trust. For me, that's a hard one. I don't trust dentists, after the sadistic one I had as a kid (no anesthetic fillings, and he intentionally sliced open the inside of my cheek just to watch me scream). My regular dentist now (the one I trust) has his Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry. His office is nice, clean, and professional. He'll discuss anything you'd like.

            When the first one was pulled,

      • by stigmato (843667)
        Perhaps this means Lisa won't need braces after all.
      • by juhaz (110830)

        Okay, if they can do it for bones, can they do it for dental repair?

        This one, not for teeth themselves, but it can probably be used to grow jaw bone into which an artificial root (dental implant) will later be planted to, in cases where there is not enough of the original left to work with.

        There are also stem cell treatments in the works that will grow entire new teeth, but they're bit farther away.

  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @12:58AM (#26129159)

    Yeah yeah. It's /. Nobody believes me.

    They just don't realize how ugly these chicks have been.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Kreigaffe (765218)

      My mod points JUST disappeared.

      You always find something worth modding once they're gone.

    • by sootman (158191)

      That was my first thought too. An "injectable bone" that "hardens at body temperature"? I think I've got prior art. :-)

  • He'll be so excited
  • heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by liquidpele (663430) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @01:07AM (#26129209) Journal
    Anyone else imagine a caulking gun shoved into a guy?
    • by cizoozic (1196001)
      It reminded me more of a certain scene from X-Men 2 involving liberal internal application of adamantium.
      • by JWSmythe (446288) *

            As soon as I read the story, I was curious to if they could inject titanium. :) More practically, it would seem they could inject something resembling carbon fiber. Ahh, light and very strong. How long would it be before they started doing it to the military to avoid bone breakage? It doesn't avoid the more fatal problem of bullet holes and IED's though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pyrrhonist (701154)

      Anyone else imagine a caulking gun shoved into a guy?

      Thanks to goatse, I don't have to.

      -- Do you need the literal version? Here, let me draw a picture.

      Your sig makes your post even more disturbing.

    • "flows like toothpaste"

      So, your wife's going to leave all your bone stuck in one end?

      That suddenly seems much more pornographic than I intended it.

    • Re:heh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Zymergy (803632) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:45AM (#26129725)
      Actually I took "Injectable Artificial Bone Developed" a completely different direction...
      Following the snicker to the Gods of obvious marketing difficulties, I imagined that a new model of the common female "Personal Massager" (AKA Dildo) was in development...
    • Re:heh (Score:5, Informative)

      by Yewbert (708667) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @09:54AM (#26131813)

      You're probably not far off.

      I studied this exact kind of stuff (well, very obsolete versions of it) in grad school, early 1990's. A class presentation that I gave once made the point that the three main surgical instruments used in joint-replacement surgeries were:

      A saw.
      A drill.
      A hammer.

      And these surgeries are violent.

      This injectable bone idea, while not brand new, is very interesting, and I have to appreciate that a non-exothermic hardening process is a significant part of that. Some polymers used as fixatives in implants, like (very possibly obsolete) poly-methyl methacrylate, are *very* exothermic as they set, and extreme care has to be taken to use only the minimal required amount; picture a thicker-than-necessary glob of the stuff sitting in an unevenly-drilled femur as the shaft of a hip replacement is put into place, and that glob heating up as it sets, weakening or destroying the bone, and at least (I'd imagine) causing incomprehensible pain.

      So, this non-exothermic stuff is way cool.

      The biodegradable aspect (calling to mind poly-lactic acid artery/vein grafts, which degrade into plain ol' lactic acid, which the body knows how to deal with) is a serious bonus.

      • by aldwin (802565)
        Q: What's the difference between an orthopedic surgeon and a carpenter?

        A: A carpenter usually knows the names of more than two antibiotics
  • by bilbo909 (974603)
    I wonder if they can make an adamantium version of this? X-Men Origins Trailer [myspace.com]
  • No surgery? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 2Bits (167227) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @01:17AM (#26129285)
    TFA is light in details, but no surgery? How do you make the paste take the shape you want it to, then? You can't possibly let it flow just like that, can you? A little quirk (pun intended), and the patient ends up with a deformed body.
  • I think your Viagra killer has just arrived.
  • Who needs this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @01:25AM (#26129349)
    We already have bone cement. Have a look: - http://www.totaljoints.info/CEM_FIX_CementStruct.jpg [totaljoints.info], and http://www.totaljoints.info/BoneCement_microscopy.jpg [totaljoints.info]
    • by spineboy (22918) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:47AM (#26129737) Journal

      Bone cement (poly-methy-methacrylate (PMMA)) was originally invented to hold joint replacements in place. It is not a good long term solution, because it stress shields the bone, and then the bone basically dissolves away.

      Bone cement can not "glue" two pieces of bone together, as it is only strong on compression, and will break in a few days if used for that.

      The only long term solution for bones is a biological one, where new bone is grown. So far ALL of the attempts to "Grow" bone have failed. Yes there are many products out there that supposedly grow bone, but I've used most of them, and none work well at all - most just sit there like a lump of plaster.

      Forming new bone is a "Holy Grail" of sorts in orthopaedic surgery, since many trauma patients, and "re-do" patients are missing bone, and we have no good way to reform the bone. This can lead to mega-prosthesis, or even amputations. There are a few ways to "stretch" out bone, but this often takes months with the patient walking around with circular metal pin frames protruding out thru their skin.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Skele-gro from Harry Potter anyone?

  • by pomegranatesix (809489) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @01:30AM (#26129393)
    It's gonna be a whopping 15 seconds before the body modification types get their hands on this, and start using it to implant horns, bumps, random appendages, what-have-you wherever they please :P

    Anyone ever see the story about the guy who implanted horns on himself? http://www.ambient.ca/bodmod/implants.html [ambient.ca]

    This seems like a much better alternative than silicone or teflon or whatever they're using these days. I could go for
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      This seems like a much better alternative than silicone or teflon or whatever they're using these days. I could go for

      Except that it isn't permanent and naturally degrades. Everybody knows it isn't a real bodymod unless you'll still be rockin' it in the nursery home.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Figure out a way to use it to make a person taller, I might have a reason to go find a plastic surgeon. Being 5'10 as a guy sucks.

  • Well I'm (Score:3, Funny)

    by nilbog (732352) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:13AM (#26129849) Homepage Journal

    I'm developing an artificial bone right now that I'd sure like to inject into something...

  • by steveha (103154) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:48AM (#26130317) Homepage

    Similar techniques are being tried also to regrow damaged or missing cartilage.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070906104136.htm [sciencedaily.com]

    It looks like the current trend is to use stem cells from within a patient's own body. That way there are no ethical issues and no worries about tissue rejection. Researchers are figuring out ways to extract stem cells from a patient's own blood.

    http://www.bio-medicine.org/biology-news/Breakthrough-isolating-embryo-quality-stem-cells-from-blood-669-1/ [bio-medicine.org]

    steveha

  • Dem bones, dem bones, dem liquefied bones....
  • This sounded great when I was reading it but it also got me to thinking, how does the stuff take shape? In short: I am missing the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag
  • I see this more for in the future when they do reconstructive surgery for replacing someone's legs....
    they need to add artificial nerves, as well as graft some skin and what not to make the artificial leg more believable....as when you look at real bone you see the nerves going through the bone in millions of little pin holes....so for us to make the same instead of worrying about making the holes...we would place the nerve optic fibers laying in place then fill the bone around it forming a reall leg so to

  • by Nexus7 (2919) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @12:25PM (#26133541)

    A key piece of information left out in the article is the hardening time. If it hardened enough in a matter of minutes, so that is could be stitched over, if could be used instead of bone grafts in tooth extractions. Bone grafts used now are powdered bone tissue from cadavers, and as the extraction site heals, bits of it keep peeling off - somewhat icky and counterproductive.

  • I know someone who was in a car accident at age ten. He damaged one of the growth plates in his left leg, as a result he now has one leg a couple of inches shorter than the other. To date, there's been no good way to lengthen the short leg to the full length of the uninjured leg, and he isn't fond of the idea of shortening the longer one. Will this be able to help him?

    • Invented by Ilizarov - a Siberian doctor who made the original circular wire frame from bicycle wheels. Nowadays they are much better. It involves cutting the bone and applying a multi-ring pin into bone stabilizer system, and then stretching the bone 1mm/day. Yes 1 millimeter per day! Takes usually a month to lengthen a leg one inch.

      Injectable bone will not work, as the muscles, nerves, arteries and veins all need to be lengthened too.

      This is a fairly common procedure in the USA, and is routinely done

    • by PPH (736903)

      I know someone who was in a car accident at age ten. He damaged one of the growth plates in his left leg, as a result he now has one leg a couple of inches shorter than the other.

      We should be seeing him on the next season of Dancing with the Stars [go.com]

  • by MountainLogic (92466) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:07PM (#26134959) Homepage
    My wife had this "grout" injected on an experimental basis to fill in for a a couple crushed disks. She was in constant severe pain before, but after the surgery she has found her back get better and better. Her middle aged back will never be as strong or pain free as a 19 year old's, but at least she has a back that if she does not do any lifting over 25 pounds and is careful she is pain free. The surgery also used some tubular "spacer" to keep the joints apart until things fused. The x-rays showed her back joints fused just as planed in a matter of weeks. I don't if she had the same stuff or if we would have had the same outcome with the same good surgeon, but it has been a wonderful outcome that has vastly improved both our lives.
    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      I have 2 relatives with slipped disks. Not sure if this treatment applies to them, but could you post a link or reply with some terms I can search for?

  • Old News (Score:3, Informative)

    by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:33PM (#26135371) Homepage

    Really, there are already injectable bone fillers on the market. Many of them. Google Norian or bone fillers or Demineralized Bone.

    This is so not news. It's not even Fark.

    • by rothic (596907)

      This new regenerative medicine technology provides a scaffold for the formation of blood vessels and bone tissue, then biodegrades. The injectable bone can also deliver stem cells directly to the site of bone repair, the researchers say.

  • In other news, Count Aral and his Betan wife, Countess Cordelia Vorkosigan,
    announced today that they are expecting their first child, a baby boy.
    Rather than using a uterine replicator, the young heir, who will be third
    in line to the Barrayan throne, is being gestated naturally, as is the
    custom on his father's homeworld of Barrayar. Everyone here at WRMHL,
    "the heart of Escobar" wishes them the best, and a safe and healthy pregnancy.
    Now, onto sports, where the Komarran Raiders played the Jackson Whole
    Splicers

  • But JK Rowling would probably sue them.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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