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Can Wood Provide Scaffolding For Bone Growth?

Wooden legs sure have come a long way since they were first used as artificial prostheses. In the latest issue of Journal of Materials Chemistry, there is a report on the recent developments at the Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics in Italy in which scientists have turned wood into something similar to bone, a material that may one day be used to create custom replacement parts.

Researchers heated the wood to decompose organic material to leave only the carbon template. Then, they reacted the template with calcium, oxygen, and carbon dioxide to form calcium carbonate that was then converted to hydroxyapatite. This hydroxyapatite scaffold mimics the structure of bone. The advantage of this process is the architectural make-up of the wood’s structure that affords the ability of cells and blood vessels to grow through it, much like real bone.

‘Current [hydroxyapatite] production processes do not generate an organised hierarchical structure,’ says Anna Tampieri. ‘Materials able to maintain adequate properties at extremely high temperatures and mechanical stress are highly sought after for use in several different applications, such as space vehicles. An intriguing possibility is that of simultaneously achieving high values of strength and toughness, for which ordinarily there is a trade-off. In addition, new materials with extreme physical properties, such as thermal expansion or piezoelectricity, can be obtained.’

More from the Journal of Materials Chemistry : Trees take on tissue engineering; From wood to bone: multi-step process to convert wood hierarchical structures into biomimetic hydroxyapatite scaffolds for bone tissue engineering…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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