From the research front line

By Jane Garton and Patsy Westcott , Tuesday 28 February 2012

Alphabet A A printer that produces real bone, why chewing licorice wood may prevent gum disease and a better way for GPs to assess cancer risk

Medical researchMedical research
Bone up

Printing your own bone may sound like science fiction, but researchers have managed to do just that with the aid of a printer originally designed to make 3-D metal objects. They fed bone-like ceramic powder into the printer, which was then programmed to produce a tiny scaffold the size of a pencil rubber. Lab tests on immature bone cells found that new bone started to grow over the scaffold within just a week. The researchers hope that one day these scaffolds could be used to treat orthopaedic and dental problems.

Remember licorice wood?

Chewing on a dried liquorice root may help in the fight against gum disease and tooth decay because it contains antibacterial compounds, say German researchers.

Red flag day

Your GP could soon be able to assess your risk of several different cancers with the aid of a tool embedded in their computer system.  It enables doctors to spot ‘red flags’ (warning signals), alerting them to early signs of difficult-to-diagnose cancers, such as pancreatic, bowel, lung and ovarian cancer, faster.

Better view

Surgeons at Tenon Hospital in Paris found that people with Alzheimer’s who had their cataracts removed were able to sleep and communicate better as well as experiencing less depression.


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