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Shuttle insulation patches up broken bones

作者:公西色撸    发布时间:2019-02-28 03:12:08    

By ANDY COGHLAN The material that stops US space shuttles from burning up when they re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere may soon be used to repair broken or degenerating bones. Researchers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California have joined forces with industrialists and academics in Texas to adapt reusable surface insulation, or RSI, for use in bones. The ceramic insulation material is a blend of silica, aluminium fibre and borosilicate glass, and the researchers have already shown that it is not rejected when implanted in monkeys and rats. They intend to use slivers of the material as ‘scaffolding’ for rebuilding bones that are damaged or worn, because its mechanical properties and structure are similar to that of bone. Casey Fox of BioMedical Enterprises, a small company in San Antonio, Texas, wants to use the material together with implants such as metal pins, wires, plates and screws to help bone fractures and breaks to heal. ‘What we hope will happen is that bone cells grow into the pores in the material, so the result is fibre-reinforced bone,’ says Howard Goldstein, the senior staff scientist at Ames and the project leader. ‘However, at the moment the pores of the ceramic material are a few microns across, and the cells that could grow into them are larger. So we need to increase pore size.’ Working with Fox and with Thomas Aufdemorte of the Health Science Center at the University of Texas in San Antonio, Goldstein hopes to do this by putting in larger fibres of silicon or by firing the ceramic at higher temperatures. ‘We hope to modify the surface structure somewhat, and vary the porosity and strength of RSI,’ says Goldstein. ‘It will probably be weaker than bone even after we’ve modified it,

 

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