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Biotech Science

Building Artificial Bone 78

Late-Eight writes "Researchers from the National University of Singapore, have recently developed a new way to make artificial bone from mineralised collagen. For some time scientists have tried to make nanosized artificial bone materials using various methods, And have recently turned their attention to mineralised collagen, a nanoapatite/collagen composite. This material is highly biocompatible and has the nanostructure of artificial bone. It could be used in bone grafts and bone-tissue engineering, among other applications."
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Building Artificial Bone

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  • by anomalous cohort ( 704239 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:57PM (#20080527) Homepage Journal

    Any help here for those with osteoporosis?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by imamac ( 1083405 )
      It's a little unclear from the article. Todays bone grafts (if donated) are performed with bone fragments, heads, grindings, etc from deceased donors. The donor bone is attached and actually broken down and replaced by the patients own osteocytes effectively replacing lost bone and ridding itself of the donor bone. I would assume this would be used for larger scale bone replacements.
      • by imamac ( 1083405 )
        Nevermind. It looks like it is designed to allow the patient bone to grow into the material.
      • by spineboy ( 22918 ) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @03:51AM (#20082655) Journal
        Osteoporosis is a medical problem - generally low amounts of estrogen prevent inhibition of osteoclasts, which therefore resorb the bone faster than the osteoblasts produce new bone.

        This article is about surgical substitutes. Bone grafts today are for large visable defects that are either filled in, or are entire segments that are replaced. Generally the donated bone is only changed at the end - about 7mm worth. The rest of the dead, donated bone does not change over, and is generally weaker, and subject to infection at a higher rate.

        Bone is complicated - it is a mineral scaffold which houses living bone cells. Most bone substitute just provides the scaffolding (conductive), and some actually induce new bone to form (Inductive), which relies on chemical signals to help cells differentiate into bone forming cells (osteoblasts).

        This sounds like they have made a very natural appearing scaffolding, which makes it easy for the new bone cells to move in, and produce normal appearing bone. This is a nice tweak on the existing technology, but not a major breakthru which will help to form new large segmens of bone.
  • old news? (Score:5, Funny)

    by friedman101 ( 618627 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:59PM (#20080549)
    Pfizer already has an edge [] in the artificial bone industry.
  • Surely not (Score:3, Funny)

    by AskChopper ( 1077519 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @10:12PM (#20080645) Homepage
    Biomimetic Man just doesn't have the same ring to it..
  • by jokestress ( 837997 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @10:26PM (#20080737)
    For those interested in the topic, linear high-density polyethylene like Medpor [] can be cut to size and allows tissue growth into the material once implanted. It is mostly for craniofacial reconstruction and generally not used in weight-bearing areas, though. There's also hydroxyapatite (nicknamed HA), derived from coral. Pretty cool stuff.
  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @10:50PM (#20080869) Journal
    I'm looking at having a mid-foot fusion sometime in the next year. Nasty operation. 3 months off my feet (and off work), only to be repeated a second time if it fails. Any weight on the joint in the first 6 weeks ruins the operation completely. Non-union's a 10-15% risk anyway, and there's also the risk of instability in the joint. I don't want to do it, but I'm told if I leave it too long I won't be able to walk and that in the medium term I have no other options. Once fused the bones can't be un-fused with current medical techniques. One of the bones I'm having fused looks like swiss cheese in the MRI and CAT scans. I'm worried that even if the fusion is a success it'll crumble in the long term. From a technical point of view the whole op seems like a really bad idea - it's just all they have to offer. Ever since I found out I've thought the best way would be to replace bad/worn out bone. I wonder if I've just been born a little early for proper bone replacement to be an option.

    Unlike hip and knee replacements ankle surgery (especially replacements - thankfully not what I'm dealing with) don't have a high success rate. I wonder if this'll do anything to improve that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Orleron ( 835910 )
      Don't hold your breath for this technology in your case, but there are a LOT of things you can do to tweak your odds. Don't smoke. Don't drink. Don't take any kind of corticosteroids. Don't take Vioxx or Celebrex for the pain because they inhibit bone healing. If you are overweight, lose weight so when you can weight-bare again you'll have less of a chance of refracturing. Get a Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) unit, otherwise known as the EBI Bone Healing System. []
      • by syousef ( 465911 )
        Thanks for the info. I'll look into PEMF. (Taken a quick look already). I don't smoke or drink but am overweight. Statistical probability of long term weight loss if I didn't have a bad ankle is not good. It's even harder when most of the exercise I can do will exacerbate the ankle problem.

        Thanks again.
        • Just gonna have to bite the bullet and get a swimming pool. Or one of those continuous flow swimming machine dealys. Maybe you can get some kind of tax credit or something by calling it "medical equipment."
    • In retrospect a lot of us were born just a 'little too early'. It only goes to highlight the progress that has been made in the past 50 years, especially in medicine.

      If it's any consolation to your ankle, provided we can avoid any major setbacks to progress, the first human that will live to see 200 is probably already alive. The amount of change s/he'll see... add to the fact that once you get that far, you'll probably live as old as you want to be, if we haven't become borg at that point...

      Good luck on th
      • by jez9999 ( 618189 )
        the first human that will live to see 200 is probably already alive.

        Pfft. Methuselah lived 969 years.
      • by syousef ( 465911 )
        Not sure I agree about 200 year life spans, but thanks for the well wishing - most appreciated.
      • Actually the telomeres at the end of our DNA fibers limit our lifespans to about 125 years. This is because, as cells split they each take some of the telomerase with them. When enough divisions have happened the cell no longer has enough telomerase to divide. Note that I've only read about this in a study of human development, since I'm not a biologist.
        • Yes, that's true, it's hard to get around a fundamental limit in our DNA. However 50 years ago we couldn't scan into the human brain, our ability to treat cancer was quite limited, most major operations required weeks or months recovery time and huge scars - now its 3 or 4 small incisions and much less time. My point is that save the advances in medicine that were so important because they were so fundamental - like washing of hands, discovery of bacteria and viruses as agents of infection, the first antibi
        • I suspect the OP was referring to SENS (, which already includes a plan for dealing with telomere shortening.
    • I don't mean to be rude, just curious, but what the hell happened to your foot? Sorry; that sounds really unpleasant. I hope the surgery goes well.
      • by syousef ( 465911 )
        I was born flat feet that point outward like a cartoon characters (angle between the feet in my natural stance is about 80-90 degrees). I was never going to be a long distance walker or runner and my shoes wear unevenly but I didn't think too much of it until I tried snow skiing and ice skating. Skiing on normal skiis just wasn't possible. My feet kept spliting and I'd feel it in my groin and go down hard no matter how I tried to point them in. Embarasing and painful.

        However the ice skating is what did the
        • Dunno man. That a definite hard luck case.
          Can't say anything about the bone fusion surgery, but mebbe a little help
          on weight loss while incapacitated.
          My advice comes from a 300 lb. friend who was looking to lose weight.
          He had a salesman job where he was at a desk or in a car the majority of
          his waking hours. He told me this:

          Liquid Diet.

          Ask your doctor about doing this for awhile during the recovery and
          afterwards find a local gym with a swimming pool to build back
          muscle mass and bone density.
          I know it's never
    • Unfortunately I think a proper bone replacement is still a long ways off. In addition to figuring out an ideal material, we still have to figure out how to make the tendons and ligaments attach normally to the fake bone.

      We also don't have a good idea of how to get rapid cellular invasion of very large bone grafts. Living bone is actually full of cells that tear down and rebuild the hard bits. This keeps our bones from wearing out the way a piece of metal will, due to wear and cracks in the microstructure.
  • Not effective ( games anyway) but entirely disconcerting.
  • Oh, artificial bones. I thought it said "artificial boners"
  • But I just prefer a good dose of skelegrow.
  • I'm a little skeptical of this. Not so much the concept - artificial bones aren't terribly difficult, unless you're going for an exact copy of bone composition, which isn't strictly necessary. In fact, it may not be optimal, depending on what it's used for.

    Where I'm skeptical is in the immune response. I just attended a talk by someone looking to join our biomaterials department, and there was an allergic reaction to hyaluronan, a common in cartilage and various joint fluids. Just because we all have

    • by Orleron ( 835910 )
      From the article, it doesn't look like they've implanted it yet.

      You are right about the possible problems with immune reaction though. Macrophages like to eat things that are below the 40-micron range, but once you get really really small, like around the size of a single cell membrane receptor, the macrophages don't seem to react to things that size. So, in actuality, some of these nano-materials have been ok as far as immune reactions, but again, that's not to say that this one will. In fact, with a

  • Bones heal by themselves anyway, and I, like most people, am not missing any bones, so where is the benefit for this technology?
    • sometimes bones can't heal by themselves. there are many disorders/diseases that can cause such a problem (see earlier posts). also, as you stated, most people don't have any missing bones. that means some people DO have missing bones. i see benefit there.
    • Bones heal by themselves anyway, and I, like most people, am not missing any bones, so where is the benefit for this technology?
      Perhaps the benefit is for the people who, unlike most people, are missing bones.
    • by Orleron ( 835910 )
      Bone won't heal if A) The gap in the bone is too large, B) The person has some kind of problem with healing in general, usually caused by things like smoking, diabetes, obesity, prior surgeries, etc. or C) The person has some kind of metabolic disorder that compromises bone healing.

      So yeah, I think there's a point to this.... especially with 70 million Baby Boomers about to plow through our health care system any minute now.

    • Facial reconstruction? plastic surgery? ... I wonder if its too far off to make them into teeth?
    • by Cstryon ( 793006 )
      The benefit for this technology, is for those of us MISSING bones. Oh yeah, they'll heal themselves, but if there is no bone there to heal, eh...not so much.
    • may benefit from this...
    • Sure? When's the last time you counted? Someone could sneak out a vertebrae or two and who would be the wiser...
    • What are you, 12?

      try having a SHATTERED leg bone and try tell me "but bones heal". plenty of people are involved in accidents where their bones are smashed into tiny pieces have need to have titanium rods inserted into them.

    • From the tone of the other replies to your post, you may need the material soon to recover from a serious pummelling...
  • Skele-gro [].

    Burns going down, but works nicely.

  • I'll just point out that people have been fooling around with this stuff for years. Second, just because you mimic the structure of bone doesn't mean that the bone in your body gives a damn. Bone will grow over any "osteoconductive" material depending on the architecture of the scaffold that you make out of it. Surface nanostructures have been shown to effect bone cells in petri dishes but in terms of a full-on in vivo test, they are difficult to work with because they are so delicate, as I imagine this wou
  • ...possible for Jeff Smith [] to sue? After all, he came up with Phoney Bone [] first...
  • by Orleron ( 835910 )
    A critical sized defect is when the gap of missing bone is so large that the two ends of the bone cannot grow back together. In a human or primate skull, this is about a 30-mm diameter hole. In a human long bone, it's about a 10-mm gap.

    Generally, the thought is that we should stick something into the hole and let the bone grow into it, and that works to a point, but once the gap gets SO large that you're basically just putting a piece of plastic/collagen in to fully replace the bone, it simply won't wo

  • [] Theres the abstract. Full text costs money apparently.
  • The first "artificial human" doesn't look that far off now...
  • This material is highly biocompatible and has the nanostructure of artificial bone


    Nano material for making artficial bone has the nanostructure of artificial bones?

    Next up, a mythical creature with the body of a horse and the face of a horse!

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @06:07AM (#20083369) Journal
    If somehow, it would be possible to give me regrown bone hips instead of these metal ones, I would be a very happy man.
    • by SkyDude ( 919251 )

      If somehow, it would be possible to give me regrown bone hips instead of these metal ones, I would be a very happy man.

      My hip replacement is scheduled for next week, so let me add a "me too".

      • Good luck. A tip: Do a light sport afterwards, like swimming, or cycling. You won't have a capsule to protect your hip afterwards, so you need to do it with muscle power.
  • I don't want to hear any of it until they can make a rat bone.
  • made of pure adamantium. Bub.
  • "has the nanostructure of artificial bone."

    So this artificial bone material is similar to artificial bone, why is that suprising? I could say the same thing about wood if it was used as artificial bone ( 153 []), it doesn't mean it would be good or bad at the job. If it has the nanostructure of bone then that is significant.

  • I need to kick some ass.

    I could use a monomolecular blade implant, too.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger