When I think of the possibilities of implants, I’m often drawn to the mechanical, techy kind described in books like Neuromancer. But an article from The American Ceramic Society has me thinking how cool it would be to rebuild my frail human body with something as aggro as shark teeth.
The article describes recent work by the University of Vigo’s Institute of Biomedical Research in Spain. Scientists are studying the possibility that bioceramics isolated from shark teeth could help regenerate human bone tissue. Bioceramics are ceramic materials that can coexist with living tissues or organisms without causing harm.
The researchers were looking for a different source for substances that can fill voids in patients’ bones. The practice is typically done with bone material from another part of a patient’s skeleton, but this is not always possible. Bioceramics are another source. This can come from cows, but there are some concerns that doing so could transmit mad cow disease.
Researchers tried to see if shark teeth could fill a similar role. Sharks are caught by the fishing industry, but their jaws and teeth are discarded and thrown in the sea. That means there’s a ready untapped source of bioceramics. Researchers went on to test the substance in rats and found that it regenerated bones in rat skulls. They’ve applied for a patent and said implants using shark bioceramics could be on the market shortly.
I’ll keep an eye on this. It would be fun, should I ever have a void in my bones that needs filled, to get one of these implants and terrorize a beach community during tourist season.
Bill Rodgers is a Contributing Editor at CFile and he needs a bigger boat.
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