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Subsituting bone with synthetic materials

Dec. 31, 2013 — When Lucia Téllez Jurado and her research team at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) were working in the synthesis of diverse materials, they realized that the Hydroxylapatite, medullar component of the bone, when obtained synthetically and "giving" it some characteristics, could be used as a bone substitute.

"We are in an early stage of research where we design materials and test compounds, for example the Hydroxylapatite, when obtained synthetically it conserves its properties and could work as a bone substitute because, according to our studies, doesn't cause toxicity in the human body."

Téllez Jurado, from the Laboratory of Heavy Materials of Metallurgic Engineer at the Superior School of Chemical Engineering and Extractive Industries (ESIQUE) of the IPN, indicates that the material has been synthetized and small powder has been obtained (nanometrics); with it molds would be made that could turn out fragile, for which it would be necessary to add other substances giving them mechanical resistance.

Hydroxylapatite obtained synthetically is a fragile "ceramic." Collagen and organic matter are what give resistance to bones. That is why the polytechnic research aims to process this material along with others to give it strength.

The work at IPN is looking for a material with optimal properties that could be applied on a large bone like the femur or fingers. However, the materials -depending on their properties- can be destined to other body parts.

"We are interested in obtaining a material that complies with mechanical characteristics so it can be implanted or used as a substitute for a broken bone when no other option is available."

The proposal of the IPN is to create a material than could be reabsorbed, generates bone and the rest could be degraded by the human body.

Is important to highlight that Hydroxylapatite is a widely studied material, employed as a biomaterial and can be obtained from animal skeletons or synthetically. Another of its applications is as a filter for heavy metals.

Téllez Jurado concludes with the idea of finding the best material to substitute or cover broken bone. "We are going to test several materials, checking their mechanical compositions so it has the required characteristics and works in humans. If someone has a fracture the technology must be applied without causing further damage."

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