Image via BBC Video
Another reason to love trees - they can give you new bones! Scientists in Italy have discovered a way to transform rattan (yep, as in what we weave into furniture) into synthetic bone material, matching human bone structure incredibly closely - more so than anything else available right now. Anyone who needs bone replacement, from those who have an accident to cancer patients, are potential candidates for the synthetic material. Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics in Faenza found that by heating rattan wood at high pressures while adding calcium and phosphate, they can create a synthetic for bone that is load-bearing, durable, and structured so much like real bone that blood and tissue cells have no problem treating it as if it were a continuation of the actual bone.
The material has been tested out successfully in sheep, finding that the material is so thoroughly accepted by the body that it became difficult to see the fuse where the synthetic bone ends and the real bone begins.
Unlike ceramic or metal materials currently used for bone replacements, this material would never need to be replaced.
However, it'll be another 5 years or so before the technology is perfected enough for use on human patients.
Check out the BBC video coverage of the technology.