Eric Berger, who writes the SciGuy blog for the Houston Chronicle writes about a study conducted at Rice University that used carbon nanotubes to help support bone growth in rabbit test subjects.
Two groups of rabbits were studied. One group received scaffolds made of 100% polypropylene fumarate, or PPF, which had performed well for bone growth scaffolding in previous studies. The second group received scaffolds made of 99.5% PPF and 0.5% single-walled carbon nanotubes.
The group that received that scaffolds that included the nanotubes showed substantially better bone growth at 12 weeks than the rabbits that received PPF-only scaffolds. Also, the composite scaffolds contained about two-thirds as much bone as the native bone tissues nearby, whereas the PPF contained only about one-fifth as much.
Researchers aren't sure why the carbon nanotubes had such a strong impact yet, and no research has been done in humans. But once this research advances further, we may find new ways to help heal bone fractures faster and more effectively.