Researchers from The Ohio State University have found that bone cells grow and reproduce faster on a textured surface than they do on a smooth one—and they grow best when they can cling to a microscopic shag carpet made of tiny metal oxide wires. In tests, the wires boosted cell growth by nearly 80 percent compared to other surfaces, which suggests that the coating would help healthy bone form a strong bond with an implant faster.
Broken bones and joint replacements may someday heal faster, thanks to this unusual coating for medical implants under development. In tests, the wires boosted cell growth by nearly 80 percent compared to other surfaces, which suggests that the coating would help healthy bone form a strong bond with an implant faster.
Cells show signs of healthy growth in this transmission electron microscope image, taken 15 hours after the cells were placed on a titanium surface coated with a carpet of tiny nanowires. In the inset (upper left), filaments can be seen reaching out from cells to the surface, which indicates a strong connection.
“What’s really exciting about this technique is that we don’t have to carve the nanowires from a solid piece of metal or alloy. We can grow them from scratch, by exploiting the physics and chemistry of the materials,” said Sheikh Akbar, professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State. “That’s why we call our process ‘nanostructures by material design.’”
Finally, the engineers have developed an affordable technique for creating the wires, which they describe in a paper issue of the journal Ceramics International.