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Published May 24, 2011, 10:56 AM

NDSU researchers take on bio-engineering replacement bones

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - As more of us live longer, and demand high tech hips and knees, there is fascinating work being done on the campus of NDSU. It's focused on the bio-engineering of replacement bones grown from a patient's own bone marrow cells.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Through a National Science Foundation Grant, researchers are using sea-shells, even Red River Valley Clay, to learn more about the structure of bone, creating 3-dimensional mesh for bone cells to grow on. It could all mean revolutionary discoveries that will help future generations be more mobile.

In a uniquely designed, special access lab, NDSU Civil Engineering Professor Kalpana Katti can be found conducting cutting edge research and experiments on bone replacement.

“It is a clay and composite material.”

But we are talking minute work, a billionth of a meter, nanometer scale. Trying to understand the intricate structure of bone so that one day you and I can buy a bioengineered bone off the medical shelf in your local orthopedic operating room.

DR. KALPANA KATTI - NDSU Researcher: “It is all about the quality and sustenance of life absolutely and I think people are living longer and the US population is aging.”

The NDSU researchers have also been looking at seashells that resemble body armor, a fascinating, interlocking structure a lot like specialized brick.

Katti and her team are trying to map the structure of bone. Building microscopic lattice type scaffolds, a growth platform for human cells harvested from a patient. Using Red River Valley Clay, bone nodules grew on the nano-clay, particles, paving the way possibly for bio-engineered bone that could be tested in animals and eventually, possibly humans.

“The wonder of science and the excitement that keeps me going and the students going is the best part.”

It is an engineering-chemistry-biology wonder and one day, NDSU may get credit for our old age agility. Katti says if significant funding continues with this research, we could see bone tissue engineered in 10-years.

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