New Sea Coral Material May Make Bone Grafts Better

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2013
Bone grafts may one day include sea coral more extensively, all because of a small clinical study that discovered that refining its properties makes it more compatible and degradable compared to a currently used derivative. The study was conducted by researchers at Swansea University in the UK and was published in the journal of Biomedical Materials.

Dr. Zhidao Xia, a regenerative medicine specialist, and colleagues were able to create a biodegradable composite material called coralline hydroxyapatite/calcium carbonate (CHACC) by partially converting calcium carbonate found in sea coral. This special material is comprised of “a coral calcium carbonate scaffold enveloped by a thin layer of hydroxyapatite.”

In a small trial, the study investigators found promising results using this material in bone grafts for 16 patients. They followed the patients and noticed improvements to bone healing after 4 months, and after 2 years, the compound had fully biodegraded.

The researchers claim the new material is more effective than coralline hydroxyapatite (CHA), from which it is derived. CHA, which is available commercially, is already utilized in bone graft procedures, but its use limited to specific bones because it is not fully biodegradable. For the study, the researchers, used coral from the sea around South China and partially refined the calcium carbonate found in its exoskeleton into CHA to make CHACC.

The newly created compound had a strong and porous structure, which is what makes CHA such a successful bone grafting material, but also offered a more biodegradable, bone-compatible overall product. Following testing of the new material’s physical and chemical properties, the team then incorporated human mesenchymal stem cells into the compound and implanted both under the skin of lab mice.

Following 10 weeks, the researchers could see new bone had formed on the surface of the implanted CHACC. The investigators then tested the CHACC in a small trial of 11 male and 5 female patients, who all had a variety of bone defects. The results revealed that not only within 4 months bone healing was naturally occurring around the implant sites, the CHACC implants themselves biodegraded following 18 to 24 months.

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