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Getting a leg up on artificial bones.

In the ongoing quest to create artificial materials that can be used to repair or replace bone, Samuel 1. Stupp, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reports the development of new types of "organoapatites" that integrate successfully into the bone tissue of living animals.

These materials, which consist primarily of mineral networks, mesh well with existing bone, Stupp contends. Testing implants in the leg bones of adult dogs for periods of 12 to 35 weeks, he found evidence of both growth and repair of bone. What's more, he says, "bone cells can erode organoapatites and induce the regeneration of natural bone, which intermeshes with the artificial bone in excellent contact."

Electron microscopic images "reveal similar crystalline textures in both the natural and artificial sides of the interface," adds Stupp.

These new organoapatite compounds, according to Stupp, derive from hydroxyapatite, a naturally occurring crystal that gives bones and teeth their rigidity Stupp's research aims to mimic the ways in which the body glues hydroxyapatite crystals into matrices, embedding them in organic materials. "We have taken advantage of the complex interactions between hydroxyapatite and organic substances to invent a new concept in the preparation of artificial bone materials that can be used to repair the human skeleton [damaged] as a result of accidents, disease, or congenital defects," he explains.

The new materials can be prepared in a variety of shapes and compositions, says Stupp. For instance, surgeons can preform the organoapatites as rigid implants, insert a soft paste --which then hardens - into a damaged area, or coat the metal surface of a skeletal implant to increase the body's ability to accept and integrate it.

Another advantage of these organoapatite mixtures is their ability to blend with other useful substances, such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and chemotherapeutic agents, or growth factors, which stimulate healing and tissue repair.
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Title Annotation:new organoapatite compounds mesh well with bone
Author:Lipkin, Richard
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 11, 1993
Words:307
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