(RxWiki News) Remember the images of pirates scraping by with a wood leg? Well, wood may be coming back into fashion for repairing and replacing damaged bones.
A recent study has demonstrated that rattan wood might one day be used as a biomaterial for treating bone diseases. It may replace or supplement the use of metal alloys.
"Exercise to keep your bones strong."
Italian researchers were led by Ugo Finardi of the Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth-CERIS-CNR and the University of Torino and Simone Sprio of the Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics - ISTEC-CNR.
The team focused on finding materials that mimic bone. They were looking for something that has the strength, density and flexibility of human bone.
Osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, bone cancer and other diseases weaken the skeleton. And with the aging world population, these diseases are going to become even more commonplace. As it is, more than 2 million bone grafts are performed around the world every year to strengthen diseased bone, according to the authors.
Finardi and his team tested the technology recently developed by the Research Group on Biomaterials of ISTEC. Researchers relied on nanotechnology to transform rattan wood into implants. The material they developed has the strength and flexibility of bone.
As such, this is known as a biomimetic material – a material inspired by nature.
The scientists believe this wooden material may be used as sort of a scaffolding for creating other materials to replace lost or damaged bone.
Before it could be used, the raw wood would have to be stripped of chemicals and other plant materials that would be incompatible inside the human body. What’s left would then be infused with calcium, oxygen and phosphate to create a porous material that looks and behaves like human bone.
The researchers say that this material would be relatively inexpensive to produce and could be integrated into existing bone.
Because it’s so close to the natural substance, the material could help with bone regeneration, the authors suggest.
This study was published in the December issue of the International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management.