A method to produce synthetic bone, using techniques to make vehicle catalytic converters, is being developed by researchers at the University of Warwick. The technique involves a state-of-the-art extrusion of the implant material through a mold, to produce a three-dimensional honeycomb texture with uniform pores. The material can then be sculpted by the surgeon. After implantation, bone cells will be transported into the implant and begin forming new bone.
The material's increased strength allows it to be used in spinal surgery, or in revision hip and knee operations where currently non-degradable materials such as titanium or steel may be used. The advantage of increased and interconnected porosity is that the implant can quickly be filled with blood vessels, speeding healing.
According to researcher Dr. Kajal Mallick, "We found that we were able to use calcium phosphates - a family of bioceramics that are routinely used in bone implant operations. By using this technique, we were able to significantly improve both the strength and porosity of the implant."