Graphene has been shown to assist with the repair of broken bones, according to the Singularity Hub. the medical technololgy comes from Carnegie Mellon University, where the research team has been led by Stefanie A. Sydlik.
The researchers have tested out an alternate formulation of graphene (graphene oxide). This formation is biodegradable and it has been designed to mimics bone. The material is also biocompatible and had a favorable degradation rate, meaning that it breaks down as the bone repairs. This is through the graphene-like material autodegrading in water on the timescale of months.
The healing properties relate to the ability of the structure to attracts stem cells. Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into other types of cells, and can also divide in self-renewal to produce more of the same type of stem cells.
The material is also mechanically stiff and strong. The overall process is intended to improve how animals, including eventually humans following clinical trials, can repair damage to their skeletons (what is known as osteogenesis). At present the material is a proof-of-concept and further research will be required to assess the ability to aid in the bone regeneration process.
This type of research builds on earlier findings involving nanocarbons and which showed how carbon nanotubes (CNTs), one-atom-thick layers of carbon rolled into hollow cylinders, can accelerate the bone healing process.
The research has been published in the journal Wires, with the research paper titled “Graphene oxide as a scaffold for bone regeneration.”