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A substance derived from waste fish bones could be used to help heal fractures. Photo: Pixabay
A substance derived from waste fish bones could be used to help heal fractures. Photo: Pixabay

Chinese scientists have discovered that a compound extracted from the bones of rainbow trout and keta salmon stimulates better bone repair, in addition to having better biocompatibility than the synthetic compound used today.

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Synthetic and biological bone replacement materials are currently used to treat or repair injuries and perform grafts, but their mechanical stability, biological activity and acceptance in the recipient remain a concern.

Hydroxyapatite (HAP) is part of the mineral composition of bones but is also a “bioceramic” known to be a biocompatible material. It is therefore used in various medical applications as a material to repair damaged bones due to the close similarity with the natural composition of the bone and its osteoconductive properties.

HAP can be obtained from natural materials such as fish bones, which are currently a by-product of the industry. An advantage of natural HAP is that it contains additional mineral ions such as magnesium, zinc and strontium, among others.

Seeing this opportunity, scientists from the Dalian Polytechnic University and Harbin Institute of Technology, both in China, prepared three types of natural HAP (nHAP) derived from rainbow trout (Onchorynchus mykiss), cod (Gadus morhua) and keta salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) by the method of thermal calcination. They then investigated their behaviour, biological response and biocompatibility in vitro in mouse cells.

The nHAP synthesised from salmon bones has great potential for its application as a substitute for the current implant materials used in the bioengineering and repair of bone tissue. 

Shi et al., 2018

“The results of the cellular experiment indicated that the nHAP synthesised from the bones of rainbow trout and keta salmon showed a better biocompatibility compared to the cod nHAP and the synthetic PAH,” commented the authors of the study.

This is because the natural compound better stimulates the viability, proliferation, differentiation, adhesion and formation of cell tissue compared to synthetic HAP.

In conclusion, the experts said that their results “confirmed that nHAP, considered until now as a waste product, has a great potential value in its application for bone repair”.

Read the study abstract here.

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