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Researchers Propose Wood As A Next Generation Bone Replacement

If it was good enough for George Washington’s teeth, it’s good enough for your bones. An international team of researchers looking for materials that could one day be used to replace bone in grafts and implants have started simple, suggesting that several types of wood could have the qualities doctors look for in a biocompatible bone replacement.

At the most basic level of its microscopic structure, some types of wood share a lot of similarities with bone that make them great potential replacements for your skeleton. In particular, researchers are looking at woods that are light while also very strong and exploring how the structure of those substances could inspire new designs for bone grafts and implants in the future.

The team has just completed a series of experiments on rattan wood — the same variety of palm wood used in some chairs — that suggests the organization and structure of the wood could be just what the doctor ordered for a quick fix for broken bones. Beyond just being light and strong, rattan has the added benefit of being flexible. That last one in particular is a quality researchers think they can harness in wood that has so far eluded them in traditional metal alloy bone replacements.

That doesn’t mean wood is a perfect substitute by any means. The process for removing chemicals and other impurities to make wood a suitable implantation candidate is a long and involved one, and research on the different types of wood that would best serve as replacements remains in its very early stages. The upside to wooden bone implants, though — strength, low weight, flexibility, and an ability to be easily shaped into any needed form — could mean that new wooden implants will be added to osteopath’s toolkits sooner than later.

(via Medical Xpress)

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