The paper, titled Bone Cell Proliferation on Carbon Nanotubes, appears in the March 8 edition of Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society. Lead author, Laura Zanello, is an assistant professor of biochemistry at UCR and was joined by UCR colleagues, graduate students Bin Zhao and Hui Hu, and Robert C. Haddon, distinguished professor of chemistry and of chemical and environmental engineering.
Zanello's paper builds on previous research by Haddon which showed that carbon nanotubes could be chemically compatible with bone cells.
Zanello's experiment put Haddon's findings to the test and found that the nanotubes, 100,000 times finer than a human hair, are an excellent scaffold for bone cells to grow on.
"In the past scientists have been plagued by toxicity issues when combining carbon nanotubes with living cells," Zanello said. "So we have been looking for the most pure nanotubes we could get to reduce the presence of heavy metals that are frequently introduced in the manufacturing process."
She credited Haddon's graduate student Zhao, now a postgraduate researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with manufacturing highly pure nanotubes for her to work with.
Some of the carbon nanotubes were chemically treated and others were not, then they were combined with rat bone cells to determine which combination or combinations worked best. Non-treated and electrically-neutral nanotubes emerged as the best scaffolds for bone growth.
Because carbon nanotubes are not biodegradable, they behave like an inert matrix on which cells can proliferate and deposit new living material, which becomes functional, normal bone, according to the paper. They therefore hold promise in the treatment of bone defects in humans assoc
Contact: Ricardo Duran
University of California - Riverside