Advanced in material science are opening up new paths in many areas. Here is the news from Melissa Grunlan at Texas A&M University that along with her team has developed a Shape Memory Polymer (SMP), also known as Shape Shifting Material that can easily be ashamed in any form when heated to about 56 degrees (C) and the will expand to fill a gap, thus creating a perfect patch. Once the temperature decreases below 50 degrees it solidifies keeping the shape.
They have tested the material in their lab as a possibile "filler" for bone defect (such as those deriving from erosion due to a cancer or cleft palate). The problem with bones defects lays in their irregularity that makes filling quite complicated. The SMP, on the contrary, is ideal in that it expands to fill all cavities, whatever their form, resulting in a sponge like filling. This filling is ideal to let osteocytes migrate to the implant and regrow the bones. As the osteocytes multiply the SMP fades away so that after a few weeks, or months, it is completely gone and the bone is repaired with its own cells.
So far the team has carried out experiments in the lab. The next step is to experiment with animals and if all goes well to move into clinical trials.
Material science, engineering and medicine are joining efforts for better cure!