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Scientist Turn Rattan Wood Into Bone

Scientist Turn Rattan Wood Into Bone

Italian scientists become medical alchemists by turning wood into bone…

Italian scientists have developed a way of transforming rattan wood into a material that is almost identical to human bone. The new technology has already shown promise and could be just a few years away from commercial use.

To create the man-made bone, scientists start by cutting a long tubular branch of rattan wood into manageable pieces. It is then trimmed into smaller chunks ready for the chemical process to begin.

bone from wood Scientist Turn Rattan Wood Into Bone

The wood is then heated in a furnace – adding carbon and calcium. The charred pieces are further heated under intense pressure while a phosphate solution is added. After 10 days, the rattan wood transforms in the bone-like material.

Led researcher, Dr Anna Tampieri, said:

“It’s proving very promising. This new bone material is strong, so it can take heavy loads that bodies will put on it…

“It is also durable, so, unlike existing bone substitutes, it won’t need replacing.”

Scientists tested several types of wood before concluding that rattan was the best. This is because of the structure and porous properties, which enable blood, nerves and other compounds to travel through it.

Dr Tampieri says it is the closest scientists have ever come to replicating the human bone: “It eventually fuses with real bone, so in time, you don’t even see the join.”

artifical bone and real bone fuse together Scientist Turn Rattan Wood Into Bone The new wood bone is being closely studied at the nearby Bologna University hospital, where orthopedic surgeons like Maurillo Marcacci are monitoring trails in sheep. The X-rays of the sheep’s legs show that the particles from the sheep’s own bones are migrating to the bone made from wood. Within a few months, scientist expect the real and the artificial bone to become like one continuous bone.

Mr Marcacci note that existing bone substitutes, like metal or ceramic, or bones from dead bodies, all have their drawbacks. He says for people with major trauma accidents or cancer, the current range of alternatives are generally weak and will not fuse with the existing bone.The new wood bones, he says, could be a major step forward:

“A strong, durable, load-bearing bone is really the holy grail for surgeons like me and for patients,”

The new bone-from-wood programme, being funded by the European Union, is expected to be deliver commercially available bones for patients in around 5 years. And with no signs of rejection or infection in the sheep, there is now real hope here that a natural, cheap and effective replacement for bones is just around the corner.

The new technology I hailed as being so important, that engineering bones from wood could soon open up a new branch of medical science.

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