Italian scientists have developed the first prosthetic bone material that is made from wood.
The researchers transformed the building blocks of wood into the material from which bone is made.
The team first heated the wood to remove water content and proteins, leaving behind a carbon skeleton of the wood's architecture. They then caused the template to react with carbon dioxide and oxygen, turning it into calcium carbonate, reports The Times.
The result is a white material that is chemically indistinguishable from bone but which has the underlying structure of wood.
According to the study, which has been published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry, the pores and channels present in the material mean that it could be more easily integrated into the body than synthetic bone replacements made from materials such as titanium.
The pores would allow cells to pass in and out of the material, as happens in normal bones.
In the first instance, the material is likely to be most suitable for filling gaps left after the removal of bone tumors or after serious fractures.
The material could find applications outside the clinic, according to Anna Tampieri, of the Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics in Faenza, who led the study.