Silk screws are used to heal bone fractures - 03/06/14
Researchers at Tufts University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have developed silk screws that were successfully able to heal fractured bone. Silk medical implants would be an attractive alternative to metal and synthetic fixtures. Metal implants often need to be replaced if they start to rust and synthetic polymers can cause inflammation, whereas silk can be dissolved within the body. It would also not set off airport metal detectors or interfere with X-rays.
“Silk materials are extremely robust. They maintain structural stability under very high temperatures and withstand other extreme conditions, and they can be readily sterilized,” explains Samuel Lin, MD, of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at BIDMC. The team used silk dissolved in alcohol to create screws that were tested on the hind legs of rats. They were so hard; they carved their own threads into the bone, just like metal screws. “The future is very exciting. We envision a whole set of orthopaedic devices for repair based on this - from plates and screws to almost any kind of device you can think of where you don’t want hardware left in the body,” states Tuft University’s David Kaplan.
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