Bioengineers and bioscientists at Rice University and Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands, have shown they can grow denser bone tissue by sprinkling stick-like nanoparticles throughout the porous material used to pattern the bone. To grow new bone, tissue engineers typically place bone cells on porous, biodegradable materials called scaffolds, which act as patterns. With the right chemical and physical cues, the cells can be coaxed into producing new bone. As the scaffold degrades, it is replaced by new bone. “Ideally, a scaffold should be highly porous, nontoxic and biodegradable, yet strong enough to bear the structural load of the bone that will eventually replace it,” said lead researcher Antonios Mikos, Rice`s J.W. Cox Professor in Bioengineering, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the director of Rice`s Center for Excellence in Tissue Engineering. “Previous research has shown that carbon nanotubes give added strength to polymer scaffolds, but this is the first study to examine the performance of these materials in an animal model.”
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