Scientists from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), assisted by colleagues from the University of Illinois, have successfully mimicked the process of bone formation in the laboratory.
A cryoTitan electron microscope was used to capture the process in great visual detail and the results, which contradicted previous assumptions, could be applied to areas other than medicine.
Bone forms naturally when calcium phosphate nanocrystals are deposited on collagen fibers – which is just what the researchers did in the lab. It has long been assumed that the collagen only acted as a template for bone formation, with the actual process occurring due to the presence of specialized biomolecules. What the Eindhoven researchers discovered, however, was that the collagen fibers themselves control mineral (and thereby bone) formation. The biomolecules, it turns out, serve to keep the calcium phosphate in solution until mineral growth starts.
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