Sea coral could soon be used more extensively in bone grafting procedures thanks to new research that has refined the material's properties and made it more compatible with natural bone.
By partially converting calcium carbonate―found in the exoskeleton of sea coral―into coralline hydroxyapatite (CHA), the refined material, called coralline hydroxyapatite/calcium carbonate (CHACC), has been shown to 'considerably improve' the outcome of bone grafts in 16 patients.
The results of the small clinical study, which have been published today, 29 November 2013, in IOP Publishing's journal Biomedical Materials, showed that bone healing was observed in each of the patients after four months and that the CHACC had fully biodegraded after two years.
CHA derived from sea coral has been used for many years as a successful bone graft material; however, its use has been limited to specific bones because it does not fully biodegrade.
The corresponding author of the research Zhidao Xia from Swansea University said: "Our methods have considerably improved the outcome of bone grafts by using the partial conversion technique, in which the biodegradable composition from natural coral is reserved. It works in a very similar way to commercially available CHA for conductive bone regeneration, but the better biodegradation properties are compatible with the host tissue's natural bone turnover process.
"When biomaterials do not biodegrade and remain in skeletal tissue, they may continuously cause problems in the host. In extreme conditions, it is possible that the different mechanical properties of the artificial bone graft may cause a re-fracture or become a source for bacterium growth in infection."
CHACC could become a promising alternative to an autograft, which uses pieces of bone from another part of the patient's body to regrow new bone in the injured area. Besides only having a limited stock, an autograf
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Institute of Physics