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Scientists Create Artificial Bones From Wood

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the sticks-and-bones dept.

Medicine 138

steve_thatguy writes "According to Discovery News, Italian scientists have made artificial bone from wood. Created by blasting wood blocks with heat until they are nearly pure carbon then coating them with calcium, the scientists say the material allows bones to heal faster and more securely. Unlike titanium, the wood-based artificial bones flex slightly much like real bone, and the porous nature of the wood allows for better bio-activity with surrounding tissue. Though human testing is still likely years away, the material is currently being used successfully in sheep and may have other industrial applications."

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Bones out of wood? (4, Funny)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016145)

Well that's not good. Now if they bleed they're going to attract ants.

Re:Bones out of wood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016175)

According to the summary, wood is the wrong word. What they are using is closer to charcoal.

Re:Bones out of wood? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016397)

that would be like me saying your brain is made of retard, when in fact, retard is just the end result

Re:Bones out of wood? (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016509)

Ha Ha. Damn that made me laugh out loud. How am I going to work this into conversation?

Re:burn karma, burn (0, Offtopic)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017181)

uuuh?

I'm not gay just cause your penis is in my ass, its an end result because I'm gay?

Well if the end result is retarded, your still make of fail and cupcakes

mmmh cupcake reach-around

Re:burn karma, burn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29018761)

Why should your karma burn? They used the word retard and you responded, almost like a real person...

Re:Bones out of wood? (2, Funny)

rs79 (71822) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018649)

Got bone? No, just a woody.

Re:Bones out of wood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016837)

Considering he is worried about ants eating the bones when they are inside the body, you are the retard AC. And then AC was a retard.

Re:Bones out of wood? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016915)

I'd say they covered that by saying "created from". Kind of like "Scientists create computer chips from sand!"

Re:Bones out of wood? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016183)

How are ants going to swim out to a pirate ship? I'd say their peg legs are safe.

Re:Bones out of wood? (1)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016263)

Oh I can see it now...giving those Terminex commercials a new twist...

:ding dong:
Termite: My car broke down and I was wondering if I could use your phone to call my brother. Hey - did you break your leg recently?

Re:Bones out of wood? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016301)

i would be more worried about termites

Re:Bones out of wood? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016687)

I'd be more worried about garage bands. Better get whatever limb is replaced tattooed with "POST NO BILLS".

Re:Bones out of wood? (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017173)

And Christian fundamentalists. If you get enough of these bone replacements, they might start calling you a witch.

Re:Bones out of wood? (1)

Mephistro (1248898) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017679)

On the other hand, you wouldn't drown easily :)

And please someone explain why was the parent post modded Flamebait???!!!

Re:Bones out of wood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016929)

Well that's not good. Now if they bleed they're going to attract ants.

Look on the bright side -- Woody Woodpecker will be delighted.

Hmmm, captcha = doctors

fp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016151)

ladies, get you pussies ready!

Bone? (0)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016155)

So its official - a boner will be all wood now ?

Re:Bone? (0)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016429)

except humans dont have a penile bone, so no.

Re:Bone? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016513)

Speak for yourself you dickless freak. I've got a big bone.

Re:Bone? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016587)

You didn't even hear a *whoosh*. It was way to far above you.

those poor chickens with boneless breasts (5, Funny)

goffster (1104287) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016161)

They now have hope

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (3, Funny)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016319)

I did my own experiment this weekend involving boneless chicken breasts sprinkled with calcium chloride, and placed over wood that had been previously heated in a vacuum till nearly carbon.

The scientific results were tasty.

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (3, Funny)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016401)

I did the same, but I used sodium chloride [wikipedia.org] , and included some wood chips soaked in dihydrogen monoxide [dhmo.org] . Somewhat tastier, despite the use of the Earth's most deadly chemical.

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016433)

Gotdamn, I bet you guys are a hit at parties.

Oh yeah? Well I used some salt and pepper and then grilled it over wet wood chips.

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (5, Funny)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016489)

We chemistry nerds tend to party among ourselves. And we know all the best chemicals.

So yes, our parties are quite entertaining.

Plus, we like to blow shit up.

/hold my ethyl alcohol solution and watch this

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (4, Interesting)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016917)

I don't know if you were among this particular group of partying nerds, but I seem to remember a website from about 15 yrs ago, built by the faculty of the engineering department of some college. It showed pictures of their annual picnic. Every year, there was a contest to see who could get the briquettes ready the quickest. Year after year, they got more inventive, finally culminating when someone took 1) a grill filled with charcoal, 2) a lit cigarette at the bottom of the pile to act as a source of ignition, and 3) a bucket of liquid oxygen at the end of a long pole. The result (yes, there were pictures) was a 10-foot column of fire, and the total destruction of the el cheapo grill.

I wish I could find that website again. I wonder if they have beaten their old record. They must have by now.

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016967)

Us robotic nerds party with the Bunsen burner crowd too! How us else would we make our flamethrowers for our wee robotic warriors?

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016847)

Wood chips soaked in dihydrogen monoxide? Doesn't that kinda make the wood chips unable to hold a flame? Or do I misunderstand the cooking process?

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017029)

The wet wood chips are there for flavor, not for fire.

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29017807)

Don't you know Dihydrogen Monoxide is listed as a greenhouse gas?

Do you realize that you have added to global warming!

The sky is falling!

The sky is falling!

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (5, Funny)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016329)

how humerus

Re:those poor chickens with boneless breasts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29017469)

Did he cook it with a can of sternum?

Sheep with wooden legs? (4, Funny)

mr_flea (776124) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016165)

So... if they're giving sheep wooden legs... does that mean they're creating pirate sheep? Are they also giving them eye patches and pet parrots?

Re:Sheep with wooden legs? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016335)

And here [blogger.com] we have a very strange internet rule 34 confirmation.

Re:Sheep with wooden legs? (3, Funny)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016685)

Theyre enhancing sheep with charcoal bones to create legs of lamb that can BBQ themselves

mmmmhm (4, Funny)

nnnich (1454535) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016185)

let washington's dentist be chastised no more!

Prior art (4, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016223)

I'll be claiming me mateys...arr!

Leave it to the Italians... (2, Funny)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016241)

... to invent something that turns orthopedic surgeons into woody boners.

(Yes. I went there.)

Re:Leave it to the Italians... (3, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016359)

AND mix in sheep. Urk.

Re:Leave it to the Italians... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016689)

AND mix in sheep. Urk.

Dang, I read your "urk" as UK.

Re:Leave it to the Italians... (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016655)

Hell, most of their surgical instruments look like something out of a carpenters shop, so this isn't surprising.

Re:Leave it to the Italians... (2, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016805)

Hell, most of their surgical instruments look like something out of a carpenters shop

Only if the surgeon's name happens to be Dr. Geppetto Baccigaluppo [barcelonareview.com] .

Re:Leave it to the Italians... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018269)

A physician was asked what course had helped him the most in his career. He replied "carpentry."

Re:Leave it to the Italians... (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018445)

It is true for orthopedic surgeons. They use saws, drills, rasps, hammers, and such. I woke up during my second hip replacement and I could hear power tools!

These new "bones" in the article look interesting, but I'll take my titanium joints any day. I love setting off metal detectors and seeing the look on the rent-a-cop's face. :)

Mythbusters (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016249)

Bones out of wood. Wow! I guess Buster's upgrade to wooden bones was prescient.

Artificial bones in sheep? (4, Funny)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016253)

That's what I call some baaaahhhd medicine.

Wow (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016299)

Now the goverment is going to create the worst mutant ever: Weapon W.

Been Doing This For Years (2, Funny)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016305)

I've been making bones from wood since puberty, these scientists obviously never took health class in middle school.

Re:Been Doing This For Years (4, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016613)

And putting it in sheep too right?

Re:Been Doing This For Years (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017669)

For scientific purposes, yes.

Wood bone will be so effective one day everyone will that wants to be boned will be boned!

Wooden bone, punchline. (4, Funny)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016357)

Pinocchio: 'Who needs a girlfriend now that I have sandpaper.'

Mutant zombie sheep... (2, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016443)

...the material is currently being used successfully in sheep and may have other industrial applications/b>

Mutant zombie sheep used as forced labor in factories?

Move Over Lee Majors (5, Funny)

bradorsomething (527297) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016457)

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We can make him stronger... faster... using the latest in prefabrication materials from Home Depot. He is... the Sixty-Five Dollar Man.

More fun: (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016607)

Creating artificial wood from boners!

Now at your local brothel!

Steven Wright was right (4, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016625)

"I saw a man with a wooden leg, and a real foot." -- Steven Wright

Very old news... (4, Funny)

ak_hepcat (468765) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016653)

Pirates have been replacing damaged or missing limbs with replacements made of wood for years!

Re:Very old news... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018339)

Pirates have been replacing damaged or missing limbs with replacements made of wood for years!

And by using pirate methods it just goes to show how scientists from all fields are trying to reverse global warming.

They've discovered the Peg leg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016667)

[pirate]Arrrr! My thinks me shoulda patented me peg leg[/pirate]

Re:They've discovered the Peg leg (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017265)

wait. pirating a patent?! you're on to something here, man!

Wood Rot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016671)

I guess if it's purely carbon (not ash?) you wouldn't get wood rot? How do they prevent the body attacking it as an infection either way?

Re:Wood Rot? (2, Insightful)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016785)

Nearly pure carbon and calcium are probably not something that your immune system worries about. Since neither are really bio-active. There is a game in which units of wood can be traded for units of sheep. This leads to the cry during the trading part of the game "Wood for Sheep!" This gives that a whole new meaning and one we can't snicker at any more.

Re:Wood Rot? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018219)

Settlers of Catan. Yes, by shoving half a dozen sheep into a ship, you can generate wood.

Or make cities out of them, for that matter.

A few hundred years too late for the (0)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016679)

George Washingtons and other people of the time...

sounds good (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016773)

until your new bone fractures. then you get splinters of wood all over your body, which surely can't be good

Re:sounds good (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016983)

Apparently, not only did you not read the article, you didn't even bother to read the _Summary_ either:
"To create the bone substitute, the scientists start with a block of wood -- red oak, rattan and sipo work best -- and heat it until all that remains is pure carbon, which is basically charcoal .

Bones! (1)

atramentum (1438455) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016783)

Dammit Jim! I'm a doctor - not a magician!

Now we can all say it... (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016791)

Got wood for sheep?

Pirate sheep... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29016835)

... that's all that needs to be said!

You're DOING IT WRONG (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016885)

I said Cyberpunk, not Steampunk!

Far too cheap (1, Troll)

gweihir (88907) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016889)

At $850 per block or bone, doctors and medical companies will never go for it. Not enough profit to be made.

Re:Far too cheap (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017137)

Of course with Obamacare the government will pay for it at the going rate of hammers (govt/norm) where a normal $20 hammer costs the govt $2000 (or more).

Re:Far too cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29017579)

[Citation Needed]

Re:Far too cheap (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017239)

At $850 per block or bone, doctors and medical companies will never go for it. Not enough profit to be made.

You got it backward. With cheaper materials come higher profits. Instead of spending $13,000 on an operation they charge you $13,500 for, they can spend $130 on an operation they charge you $10,000 for. Doctors and hospitals don't make money by using, then having to discard, extremely expensive equipment.

Re:Far too cheap (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017553)

$640,000 should be cheap enough for anybody.

Safer than Titaniam (4, Interesting)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016903)

"Paradoxically, metal or ceramic implants meant to prevent bone breaks can sometimes cause them. Current implants are significantly harder than the bone that surrounds them. Natural bone can flex slightly. In fact, stress helps build stronger bones. However, the harder implants can apply so much stress to a particular area that the bone snaps. Softer wooden implants might cause fewer bone breaks."

Hm, this is like what I learned in Structures: or Why Things Don't Fall Down. [amazon.com]

The author noted that insurance companies, finding a weak wall, would often over-retrofit it. Then the building collapses, becase the weight that would have been born by the wall is displaced onto the other walls.

He also wrote about the cult of metal. The only reason engines are made of metal, he explained, is because they have to contain very high temperatures. If it were not for that, they could be made far more efficiently with hoses and bladders. He challenged the readers to come up with ways to make things that are presently made out of metal out of other materials -- such as wood and bird feathers.

Re:Safer than Titaniam (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016977)

Somehow, those two paragraphs dont make any sense at all.

a) Why would a strong wall move stop bearing load and overload others?
b) There are quite a few reasons besides temperature to make stuff of metals. But why, go ahead with the birth feathers:)

Re:Safer than Titaniam (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017229)

a) Why would a strong wall move stop bearing load and overload others?

I'm not sure if this is what GPs source was saying, but I would think the real problem with the extra-strong wall is the same with the extra-strong bones (if there is a problem with the former at all): it doesn't flex, so if its attached firmly to another weaker section, and that weaker section is subject to a load which causes the weaker section to deform, instead of the stronger section deforming elastically and removing the strain on the connection with the weaker section, the stronger section stays firm and the connection fails.

Re:Safer than Titaniam (3, Informative)

iroll (717924) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017045)

Right. All levity aside, this could be a revolutionary medical step. Artificial bone is one of the most challenging materials science problems going, and has been for decades.

When an artificial hip, or other load-bearing bone implant, has a higher modulus than bone (and they invariably do), they cause the load to be transmitted unevenly to the bone. The artificial hip is on a pin that goes down into the marrow on the top of the femur. In natural loading, each segment of bone (taken from top to bottom) is loaded equally in compression. With an artificial hip implanted, some of the force is transmitted directly to a deeper part of the femur. The top of the bone is loaded less heavily than it would have been under natural circumstances?

Who cares? Your bones do. They're dynamic. When they're unloaded, they break down. So now, by unloading the top of the femur, you've given your body permission to dissolve it. Now your hip implant is bare, and only being held by its tip--fractures are the final result. This is why a hip replacement has a "lifespan" of only a few years--young people who have hips replaced have to go get new ones at some point, and have to lose a chunk of femur each time.

Things have probably improved since I was an engineering undergrad discussing these problems (~8 yrs ago), but those are the big issues. I'm going to be really curious to read more about this.

Re:Safer than Titaniam (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017427)

Sorry for the ignorant question, as I'm a EE, not a doctor or biomed expert.

If hip replacements cause the body to dissolve the top of the femur because of this loading issue, then why not just replace the entire femur with a metal replacement? Why try to join two dissimilar materials this way?

What's so hard about simply making artificial replacement bones? If you replace the entire bone, it seems that this loading issue shouldn't be a problem any more, and the only challenge is how to attach tendons and cartilage so the joints work properly.

Re:Safer than Titaniam (5, Informative)

iroll (717924) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017801)

My BS is Bioengineering (Materials), but I've been a physics teacher since I graduated, so I'm a little rusty. Take this with the requisite grain of salt =)

You're right, if you could just replace the whole femur, you'd eliminate the loading biocompatibility problems. The problem is that the femur as-a-whole is part of a complex and interconnected system, and would be many orders of magnitude more difficult to replace than the head alone. That tendons-and-cartilage problem is much, much harder than it sounds.

For starters, the top of the femur isn't connected to any muscles or ligaments, so we don't have to worry about reattaching them. Once the head of the femur is dislocated from the hip socket, the socket is replaced by a bioengineered version, and the top of the femur is cut off and replaced. The new ball/socket joint is reconnected, and the muscles naturally fold back around it.

Sounds simple, but this by itself is one of the most traumatic "routine" operations in the book. It's a massive, multi-hour undertaking, and requires a lot of blood and a lot of elbow grease. Removing the entire femur, while preserving all of the soft tissue around it, would be unimaginably difficult by comparison.

To replace the whole femur, all of the tendons and ligaments attached to the lower femur would have to be removed. Attaching them to a bioengineered substrate may be difficult or impossible. These aren't trivial connections, either. They're attached to the strongest muscles on your body, so they are subject to the most extreme forces in the body--hundreds if not thousands of PSI during heavy exertion (running, jumping, etc).

Titanium, in particular, would be a great candidate for a whole-bone replacement, if all it had to do was be a "mechanical" member. But getting the body to integrate with titanium--which you'd need, to keep those ligaments attached--is insidiously hard. One of the reasons why this new material is exciting is because the body integrates it much differently, by using it as a frame for normal growth (filling in the holes in the artificial bone with natural bone). Titanium is treated differently--the body effectively walls it off with a special type of soft tissue. It's "biocompatible" only in the sense that it doesn't provoke any kind of dangerous immune response; it is not a good substrate for normal tissue growth. Very, very few materials are, and most of them are highly engineered plastics with special protein coatings.

You also can't easily engineer a "half" replacement for the knee--knee replacements replace both sides of the joint. So, now you're chopping up the top of the tibia to provide a mate for your artificial femur. Which leads you right back to the same kind of problem.

Hip replacements used to be much worse than they are now; the mechanics have improved by leaps and bounds. They've gotten to the point where most people who need one (elderly, >60 yrs) will ONLY need one during their lives; it's younger athletes (Bo Jackson) and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers who have the bulk of their life ahead of them who are in danger of needing multiple rounds of replacement.

SheepShit!! (2, Interesting)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017023)

Sheep die at the slightest insult to their systems. A runny nose is a death sentence. I find it unbelievable that sheep are recuperating on their own with the assistance of some charcoal and calcium

If She's Made of Wood...She's a Witch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29017289)

Burn her!

At least they can't be turned into a newt!

Very small pebbles?

Overheard at a restaurant... (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017439)

Hey, hon, does your leg of lamb taste like toothpicks?

Is it wood, anymore? (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017517)

"Heating them until they're almost pure carbon..."

Why not just use carbon? Why start with wood at all?

Re:Is it wood, anymore? (1)

lindseyp (988332) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018667)

Where would you propose to get the carbon from?

Re:Is it wood, anymore? (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018683)

I used to guard a freshwater facility; carbon (the element) is available in huge, I mean 100 pound bag quantities. If the object is "almost completely carbon", does it matter the original source?

I'm not a chemist, but isn't burning almost anything gonna create/expose carbon?

It's all fun and games... (4, Funny)

kuzb (724081) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017615)

...until your first termite infestation :(

I think they mean charcoal. (3, Informative)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017665)

When you take wood and heat it in such a way that almost only pure carbon is left, it's called charcoal. I bet they avoided that little term because it doesn't sound nearly as cool (or strong) as wood.

Home Depot is the new Urgent Care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29017743)

Got a broken leg? We have wood glue!

Arrrrg! (1)

danwiz (538108) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017805)

Pirate sheep rejoice!

This almost makes up for the advantage of Velcro gloves.

Welcome (1)

pryoplasm (809342) | more than 5 years ago | (#29017941)

I, for one, welcome our pirate sheep overlords...

It's just too easy (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018035)

I got yer bone made outta wood right here.

It's a witch! (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018481)

Wooden bones => bridge => floats => weighs the same as a duck => witch => burn her!

sheep and "other" industrial applications? (2, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018697)

Ah, the sheep, a stellar piece of industrial machinery.

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