Researchers use flowing fluids to create mechanical stress needed for bone formation
Tissue engineering researchers in Rices J.W. Cox Laboratory for Biomedical Engineering have developed a new technique that allows bone-forming cells to build a porous, 3-D bony matrix thats structurally similar to natural bone. This photograph from an electron microscope shows a pore that has formed in a 3-D bony matrix. Bone-forming cells are clearly visible lining the walls.
A new study by Rice University researchers indicates that bioengineers growing bone in the laboratory may be able to create the mechanical stimulation needed to grow bone outside the body.
One of the greatest challenges tissue engineers face in growing bone in the laboratory is recreating the conditions that occur inside the body. The recipe for growing healthy bones includes not only a precise biological mix -- bone cells called "osteoblasts" and several growth factors that osteoblasts use to build the mineralized matrix of bones -- but also mechanical stimulation. Astronauts whose bones become brittle after months in orbit are a testament to the importance that mechanical stress plays in bone growth. In orbit, their skeletons arent subject to the everyday stresses of gravity.
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Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
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The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.
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