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Fundamental discovery -- Bone fracture

stressed." That interdisciplinary research group included the research groups of Morse and Stucky, as well as that of Herbert J. Waite.

Said co-author Daniel Morse, director of UCSB's Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies: "It's especially exciting for us to find the profound medical significance of our discoveries for human bone." He described the discovery of "molecular shock absorbers" providing a kind of self-healing glue holding biological mineralized structures together when studying the abalone shell six years ago. "It's truly remarkable to find the same fundamental mechanisms operating in bone," said Morse.

He noted that these mechanisms give young healthy bone its tremendous resiliency and resistance to fracture, and actually help heal small microcracks soon after they're formed. "We're especially interested in learning how these molecules change and become depleted with age as well as in certain diseases," said Morse. "A potential benefit from these discoveries is the prospect that we might now learn how to protect bone from these deleterious changes, and perhaps actually reverse some of the changes."

Hansma explained, "The thing that's exciting about this research is that we've identified a mechanically important component of bone." When the exact molecules are identified, these can then become therapeutic targets, for example, diet, or drug therapy. He said the group has made a fundamental discovery of something that's important for bone fracture resistance that was previously unknown. Now the degradation mechanisms and deficiencies can be studied. "If you don't know something is important then you can't do anything about it. This is a fundamental and new discovery in an old and well-studied field," Hansma added.

He noted that bone fracture is a serious problem for elderly people, especially those with osteoporosis. Bone fracture is one of the leading factors in decreasing quality of life for the elderly. "Cancer an
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Source:University of California - Santa Barbara


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