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What Do Bones and Your Car Have in Common

I know, if you are like most people you hate a riddle that does not have an answer. Well, this isn't one of those. It is also not one of those ones with a corney answer. This answer to this one is about a serious technological advance.

A new method of producing synthetic bone is being developed. It uses techniques normally used to make catalytic converters for cars, is being developed by researchers at WMG at the University of Warwick.

How exactly is it done and why is it like a catalytic converter?

The technique involves state-of-the-art extrusion of the implant material through a mould, to produce a 3-dimensional honeycomb texture, with uniform pores throughout. The material can then be sculpted by the surgeon to precisely match the defect. After implantation bone cells will be transported into the implant and begin to form new bone.

So, Who created this new method?

WMG’s Dr Kajal Mallick is developing the technique along with his postgraduate researcher James Meredith. They strongly believe it could offer substantial clinical benefits to patients undergoing bone implant surgery.

"We found that we were able to use calcium phosphates – a family of bioceramics that are routinely used in bone implant operations, but by using this technique we were able to improve significantly both the strength and porosity of the implant."

Dr Mallick added: "At the present time, there is no product available in the market place that satisfies both these key properties simultaneously. It is nearly an ideal scaffold structure for efficient blood flow and formation of new bone cells."

What is the benefit of using this method?

The increased strength of the material means it could be used in spinal surgery, or in revision hip and knee operations, where currently non-degradable materials such as titanium or steel may be used. The advantage of increased and interconnected porosity is that the implant can quickly be filled with blood vessels, resulting in a more rapid healing process.