Fracture Putty For Compound Fractures - DARPA

Fracture Putty is a futuristic medical technique sought by DARPA; they're having a workshop for interested developers in early July.


(Complicated compound fracture)

Compound bone fractures are very difficult to treat; a frequent battle field occurrence, they often require multiple surgeries and long healing and rehabilitation times. DARPA would like to see an alternative to today's standard treatments, which often lead to further complications, and are not fully load-bearing, which can adversely affect the immediate transportation of patients.

The goal of the Fracture Putty program will be to develop a dynamic putty-like material which, when packed in/around a compound bone fracture, provides full load-bearing capabilities within days, creates an osteoconductive bone-like internal structure, and degrades over time to harmless resorbable by-products as normal bone regenerates.

If successful, Fracture Putty could rapidly restore a patient to ambulatory function while normal healing ensues, with dramatically reduced rehabilitation time and the elimination of infection and secondary fractures.

Specific technical challenges for the program include novel bioresorbable adhesives which bond preferentially to bone vs. soft tissues, with bone-like mechanical properties, in the wet biological environment; load-bearing biomaterials with high mechanical strength and high porosity that match the mechanical properties of bone; biomaterials which create hierarchical bone-like internal structure; and biomaterials which adapt to biochemical cues

I thought immediately of gobathian, an alien healing technique from Clifford Simak's gentle classic Time is the Simplest Thing:

"Gobathian? That was what you used? That was why he was all wrapped up?"

"He was broken," said the doctor. "Like a toy someone had thrown on the floor and stepped on. What do you know about gobathian?" he asked.

"I've heard of it," said Blaine.

"An alien drug," the doctor said. "Used by an insect race. A warring insect race. And it's done miracles. It can patch up a smashed and broken body. It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue."
(Read more about the gobathian)

From Fracture Putty Proposer's Workshop via Not-so-silly Putty.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/29/2008)

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