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Fraunhofer's experimental new artificial hip (right)

While modern artificial hips are made of a number of high-tech materials, metal is still often the material of choice for younger, more active patients. This is due mainly to the fact that it’s so robust. Unfortunately, however, difficulties can arise in the metal ball-and-socket interface – where the artificial head of the femur meets the artificial socket of the pelvis – if things aren't perfectly aligned. In particular, the metal surfaces can wear against one another, decreasing the longevity of the implant and potentially causing health problems in the patient. Now, researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation are developing a new type of heavy-duty artificial hip, that contains no metal at all.  Read More

Rice University's Team Break-and-Make, with their automated linear distractor

Whether it's from injury, infection or malfunctioning genes, millions of children suffer from bone deformities at any given time. To help remedy the situation, doctors often resort to the painful practice of breaking the target bone and then repeatedly moving the ends apart as they attempt to grow together – a procedure known as distraction osteogenesis (DO), that has its share of risks and problems. Now, a team of undergrad students from Rice University (RU) in Texas has come up with a device they hope will make the lengthy process of bone-stretching both easier and safer for the young patients who have to endure it.  Read More

Hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, seen within the MIT-designed film coating

Probably the simplest way to describe an artificial hip would be to say that it’s a ball attached to a stem. The stem is often fastened to the open end of the femur using a glass-like polymer known as bone cement, while the ball takes the place of the original hip bone’s ball joint, rotating within a corresponding implant in the socket of the pelvis. Although problems can occur at that ball-and-socket interface, they can also result when the bone cement cracks, causing the stem to detach from the femur. Scientists at MIT, however, have developed a new type of nanoscale film coating, designed to keep that from happening.  Read More

A student measures a skull with a digitizer, in Ann Ross' lab

For some time now – whether by using computers or clay – forensic scientists have been able to make three-dimensional reconstructions of the faces of the deceased, based on the contours of their skulls. More recently, however, software has been developed that can determine the sex and precise ancestral background of a person no longer with us, via a set of skull measurements.  Read More

Scientists at Cambridge University have built robots out of LEGO, to assist in their resea...

Despite what TV shows like CSI would have us believe, a lot of lab work tends to be highly monotonous. It’s the type of work that could be assigned to robots, were it not for the fact that many facilities can’t afford the things, or can’t rationalize bringing one in for a single project. When scientists at Cambridge University were recently faced with a very mindless, repetitive task that was part of their research into creating artificial bone, one of them got creative, and built a couple of robots out of LEGO.  Read More

Scientists have created the world's first biodegradable joint implant (pictured), which ca...

Joint implants should always be made of materials like titanium, so they can last the lifetime of the patient ... right? Well, not according to researchers at Finland's Tampere University of Technology. They’ve developed a product known as RegJoint, which is reportedly the world’s first biodegradable joint implant. Unlike permanent implants, it allows the patient’s bone ends to remain intact, and it creates a new joint out of their own tissue.  Read More

A new material known as 'fracture putty' could be used to help broken bones heal much more...

Anyone who has ever broken a bone knows that while receiving the injury itself is quite unpleasant, being laid up for several weeks to even a few months afterwards is also no picnic. Help may be on the way, however. The U.S. Department of Defense is funding a study, to develop fast bone-healing treatments that could be used on soldiers, along with civilians and even animals. Already, scientists have gotten promising results in laboratory tests, using something they call “fracture putty.”  Read More

A new discovery regarding a naturally-occurring lubricating layer on artificial hip joints...

For many people who have suffered from an arthritic hip, the replacement of their natural hip bone with a prosthetic implant has meant an end to constant pain, and the restoration of a normal range of movement. Unfortunately, the ball-and-socket joints of the prostheses do wear down over time, so younger patients in need of the implants are typically told to either wait until they are older, or must face the prospect of someday requiring repeat surgery to service their device. A recent discovery, however, could lead to longer-lasting artificial hip joints – this could in turn allow patients to receive prosthetic hips at a younger age, without the need for additional surgery when they get older.  Read More

Dr. Nico Sommerdijk and colleagues have created bone in a laboratory setting

Scientists have successfully mimicked the process of bone formation in the laboratory. A cryoTitan electron microscope was used to capture the process in great visual detail and the results, which contradicted previous assumptions, could be applied to areas other than medicine.  Read More

A piece of the TiFoam titanium bone replacement material

Back in June, those brainy folks over at Germany’s Fraunhofer research group announced the development of Resobone, a material designed to replace the titanium plates used to patch holes in peoples’ skulls. Now, perhaps a little ironically, they’ve announced the creation of TiFoam – a titanium foam to be used for replacing injured bone. Unlike Resobone, TiFoam is intended for load-bearing areas, where a balance of strength and flexibility are essential. Like Resobone, however, it’s designed to encourage surrounding bone to grow into the implant.  Read More

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