Surgeons have used metal screws to reassemble broken bones for years, but there are drawbacks: if the metal corrodes, they've gotta come out. Biodegradable screws aren't as strong, and can cause inflammation. So a team of Harvard and Tufts scientists came up with screws and plates that are as tough as metal, but biodegradable. The trick? They're made out of silk.A team led by Samuel Lin at the Harvard Medical School and at Tufts University seems to have found the solution: robust, self-tapping, biodegradable screws made from silk. The team made the hardware by dissolving silk in alcohol, pouring the solution into screw-shaped molds, then machining threads into the resulting blanks.
In lab tests on rats, the screws showed excellent strength, promoting natural bone remodeling without inflammation. Additionally, the researchers point out that the silk screws are invisible to X-ray, making post-operative examination easier, and they could even be impregnated with drugs to prevent infection or encourage bone growth.
Right now, the team plans to begin using the silk screws in facial reconstruction surgery, but the hope is that these screws will soon be applicable in all sorts of orthopedic procedures. Clinical trials, as always, will hopefully begin soon.
Source: gizmodo.comAdded: 13 March 2014