Magazine article USA TODAY

Nanotubes Help Broken Bones Mend

Magazine article USA TODAY

Nanotubes Help Broken Bones Mend

Article excerpt

Osteoporosis sufferers and victims of broken bones may have the tiniest of friends in carbon nanotubes, say researchers at the University of California, Riverside. The strength, flexibility, and light weight of carbon nanotubes--structures 100,000 times smaller than a human hair--allow them to act as scaffolds to hold up regenerating bone, reports Robert C. Haddon, professor of chemistry and the director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

"They're the perfect replacement: small, strong, and carbon-based," relates Haddon, lead author of the paper, "A Bone Mimic Based on the Self-Assembly of Hydroxyapatite on Chemically Functionalized Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes."

The findings of Haddon may lead to improved flexibility and strength of artificial bone, new types of bone grafts, and inroads in the treatment of osteoporosis. He expects it will attract interest from other researchers and companies hoping to develop new bone-graft materials and techniques.

"This research is particularly notable in the sense that it points the way to a possible new direction for carbon nanotube application in the medical treatment of broken bones," notes Leonard Interrante, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N. …

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