Materials Science and Technology play an important role in our life nowadays. Scientists at Missouri University of Science and Technology have manufactured a type of glass implant that can one day be used to repair injured bones in arms, legs and other parts of the body.
According to Dr. Mohamed N. Rahaman, professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Missouri S&T, it is the first time researchers have introduced a glass implant that is strong enough to handle the weight. Furthermore, it can also integrate with bones and encourage bone growth.
In preceding work, the Missouri Science and Technology researchers showed a glass implant strong enough to bear the weight and pressure of repetitious movements, such as lifting or walking. In their latest research, the research team claimed that the glass implant, in the form of a spongy scaffolding, also integrated with bones and promoted bone growth. This combination of strength and bone growth opens new doors for bone repair.
Regular approaches to structural bone repair include either the use of a bone allograft from a cadaver or a spongy metal that does not reliably heal bone. Both approaches are costly and carry risks. Rahaman believes the type of glass implant invented in his center can provide a more practical approach to healing injured bones. The glass is bioactive, which means it reacts when implanted in living tissue and transform to a bone-like material.
In their most recent study, Rahaman and his collaborators implanted bioactive glass scaffolds into sections of the skullcaps (calvarial bones) of laboratory mouse, then observed how well the glass integrated with the nearby bone and how quickly new bone grew into the scaffold. The scaffolds are produced through a process called robocasting (a computer-controlled technique to produce materials from ceramic slurries, layer by layer) to assure uniform structure for the spongy material.
Spongy scaffolds of the silicate glass had the same strength properties as cortical bone, according to previous research by the Missouri Science and Technology scientists. Cortical bones are the outer bones of the body that manage the most weight and undergo the most repetitious stress. They comprise the long bones of arms and legs.
Glass scaffolds are the strongest material in the world since it also encourages bone growth in an adequate amount of time. Rahaman estimates three to six months to be an appropriate timeframe for completely revitalizing an injured bone into one that is strong enough to bear weight.