Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Aluminum Bone

Tissue engineers have made great strides in growing bone parts in the lab, but it is proving much more difficult to replace whole sections of leg or arm bones, which sustain constant pounding. Researchers at Rice University have developed a technique for growing bone tissue strong enough to withstand the stresses of everyday activity. Conventional bone-tissue engineering involves replacing lost bone with a biodegradable polymer scaffold seeded with cells. As the polymer degrades, new tissue develops. But in load-bearing parts of the skeleton, cells are constantly breaking down and forming new bone in response to mechanical stimuli. If the polymer scaffold placed in a patient’s leg is too weak, the material falls apart under this stress. To reinforce their scaffold material, Rice bioengineer Antonios Mikos and chemist Andrew Barron added nanoparticles of alumoxane (an aluminum-based compound) to a photosensitive polymer. Shining light on this blend spurs the nanoparticles to fix themselves to the polymer chains. The resulting material’s compressive strength is three times that of the polymer alone. Mikos hopes to start testing the material in rabbits this summer.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Computing

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me