A new procedure to turn blocks of wood into artificial bones has been developed by Italian scientists, who plan to implant them into large animals, and eventually humans.
Wood-derived bone substitute should allow live bones to heal faster and more securely after a break than currently available metal and ceramic implants.break than currently available metal and ceramic implants.
The researchers chose wood because it closely resemble the physical structure of natural bone, "which is impossible to reproduce with conventional processing technology."
"Our purpose is to convert native wood structures into bioactive, inorganic compounds destined to substitute portions of bone," said Anna Tampieri, a scientist at the Instituto Di Scienza E Techologia Dei Materiali Ceramici in Italy.
To create the bone substitute, the scientists start with a block of wood -- red oak, rattan and sipo work best -- and heat it until all that remains is pure carbon, which is basically charcoal.
The scientists then spray calcium over the carbon, creating calcium carbide. Additional chemical and physical steps convert the calcium carbide into carbonated hydroxyapatite, which can then be implanted and serves as the artificial bone.