Computer generated image of carbon nanotubes and a buckminsterfullerene molecule, or ‘bucky ball.’ The nanotubes are 100,000 times finer than a human hair.
A research team led by Laura Zanello, an associate professor of biochemistry at the University of California, Riverside, has successfully grown osteocytes on a scaffold of carbon nanotubes.
The group’s work shows for the first time that bone cells can adhere to, and proliferate on, a carbon nanotube scaffold.
Like diamond, single-walled nanotubes are a form of carbon and are among the strongest materials in the world. They consist of a rolled up sheet of hexagonally-arranged carbon atoms.
Artificial bone scaffolds made from polymers and peptide fibres are not strong and can be rejected by the immune system. These new findings may help in producing stronger, more flexible artificial bone scaffolds to aid in the repair of broken bones. They may also be used in bone grafting and in the treatment of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Bone crystals growing on a carbon nanotube substrate.
Clumps of osteocytes next to a nanotube scaffold.