Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Tuesday, April 3rd 2007- Research Group Publish Paper in Nature Materials

26 March 2007

An interdisciplinary research group from the Department of Anatomy, RCSI and the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering have published a paper in the April issue of Nature Materials (2007; 6: 263-268). Entitled ‘Living with cracks: Damage and repair in human bone’, the paper was written by Prof. Clive Lee, David Taylor and Jan Hazenberg.

The article reviews the work that has been done to understand how cracks form and grow in bone and how they can be detected and repaired in a timely manner. It is truly an interdisciplinary research field, requiring the close cooperation of materials scientists, biologists, and engineers.

The paper discusses how our bones are full of cracks: they form and grow as a result of daily loading activities. Bone is the major structural material in our bodies; though weaker than many engineering materials, it has one trick that keeps it ahead: it can repair itself. Small cracks, which grow under cyclic stresses by the mechanism of fatigue, can be detected and removed before they get long enough to be dangerous.

Caption A microcrack ‘C’ encounters an osteon ‘O’, and begins to grow around its cement line (dashed line)