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Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2006

Medical -- Bone clone . . .
Life for the 2.2 million people worldwide needing bone grafts could get a lot better if a new hybrid material developed by researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee lives up to expectations. While conventional synthetic bone graft materials offer several advantages over donor bone and negate the need for the patient to undergo a second operation, all suffer from significant shortcomings. The beauty of the gel-like substance developed by a team that includes UT's Stacy Hutchens and Barbara Evans and Hugh O'Neill of ORNL's Chemical Sciences Division is that it mimics the way bone grows in the body. Grafting with this material could improve healing around surgically implanted devices such as artificial joints or dental implants. Properties of the material -- calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite nanocrystals deposited in a bacterial cellulose hydrogel -- are described fully in a paper published on line in the journal Biomaterials. Funding for this research has been provided through the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and by the National Science Foundation. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

Geology -- New old detectives . . .
Geologists like Larry Anovitz may have a new weapon of choice for reconstructing ancient climates. Obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic glass, has been used for making tools and weapons since the Stone Age, but a team led by Anovitz of Oak Ridge National Laboratory has discovered another use for this sharp and shiny rock. While obsidian has proven difficult to date, Anovitz and colleagues from ORNL and the University of Tennessee have devised a way to exploit a characteristic that has previously been viewed as a liability to use obsidian as a measure of prehistoric climate change. For their study, Anovitz, Dave Cole, Mostafa Fayek, Mike Elam and Lee Riciputi looked a
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Contact: Mike Bradley
bradleymk@ornl.gov
865-576-9553
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
30-Jun-2006


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