Bob Michaels

December 13, 2010

1 Min Read
Who Ever Heard of Liquid Bone?

A liquid that solidifies into a bone-like material is injected into a model bone defect. (Photo by Thomas Webster)

Competing for the "Who'd've thunk it" prize of 2010, Thomas Webster, an associate professor of engineering at Brown University (Providence, RI), has developed a nanomaterial that quickly solidifies at body temperature into a bone-like substance. If the material proves successful, it could eventually find its way into knees and hips everywhere.

Containing the same nucleic acids as DNA, the material consists of molecules that have two covalent bonds and link with other molecules to form a tube. Known as a twin-base linker, the material self-assembles into a nanostructure, emulates natural tissue, solidifies quickly at body temperature, and can be made to match the mechanical properties of the tissue into which it is injected, according to Webster.

Although the material has not been tested outside the laboratory, Webster is convinced that it will have the weight-bearing properties of native bone. "It will have that strength after solidifying in the body--after a couple of minutes," he maintains.

For more information on this technology, see the Technology Review article "Injecting New Bone."

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