Matthew Keever" />
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Sunday, October 1, 2023


Not so silly putty heals bones for military

Imagine a speedy recovery from a serious leg injury that would normally rob the use of your limb.

Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are working to develop a type of ‘fracture putty’ intended to speed the healing process for severely broken bones.

This technology also has the potential to mend patients’ broken bones that have previously been untreatable.

They have been awarded $5.2 million as part of a federal contract with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research and development arm of the Department of Defense.

Today’s broken bone treatments employ bone grafts, held in place by screws and plates, which take an extended amount of time to heal and sometimes lead to additional complications.

The fracture putty research hopes to develop a nontoxic putty-like material, which will be placed at the site of a severe fracture, providing immediate support and promoting rapid formation of new bone.

Dr. Krishnamoorti, Dow Chair Professor of Chemistry and department chair at the University of Houston, said the putty is injected as a liquid, hardens upon contact with the bone and is dissolved by the body’s enzymes over time. As the putty dissolves, the bone actually grows back together.

‘Much like cement, it hardens and makes sure the crack in the bone will heal,’ Krishnamoorti said.

Although the putty is in the early stages of development, those involved seem optimistic about the possibilities involved.

The putty is still being studied, and it is not yet clear how widely applicable it will be. Krishnamoorti said DARPA will, first and foremost, use it for the military.

Further down the line, it may be used more for civilians, but will not be commercially available for many years. DARPA will make sure it is safe for general use and does not have any major side effects before releasing it to the public.

Though some of DARPA’s previous accomplishments, such as napalm, have had ethically murky outcomes, this technology does not seem to have any adverse side effects. The fracture putty development seems valid, applicable, and morally sound.

Matthew Keever is a communication junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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