Researchers from South Korea have shown, in preliminary clinical trials of 53 patients, that after a year their magnesium-calcium-zinc orthopedic implant spurns new bone growth by mimicking the body’s calcification matrix while the implant safely degrades. Their work appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Orthopedic implants in the form of screws, rods, or metal plates are used to hold fractured bones in place so that they heal properly. Oftentimes this involves an initial surgery to insert the device followed by a second surgery to remove it. An alternative to this would be a biodegradable implant. Researchers have explored this idea using magnesium-based implants since magnesium is known to degrade within the body. However, there has been limited success in this area.