Saturday, May 06, 2006
Bone Glue, getting you back on your feet quicker
Brian Genge, a biochemist at the University of South Carolina, has devised a novel treatment for fractures: a toothpaste-like cement that’s injected into the cavity created by the break. In 15 minutes, the bone is strong enough to bear weight.
Bone cements aren’t new, but those in use today can inflame surrounding tissue. Genge’s concoction works like mortar for a brick wall: Just add water. Its key ingredient is a nanoparticle resembling calcium phosphate, the mineral that gives bones their hardness. The tiny size of the particle increases the surface area, allowing more room for water, which speeds up the chemical reaction that hardens the paste. The result is an epoxy that is twice as strong as current bone cements. And because it’s moldable, the glue could also replace surgical hardware such as screws and plates.