Looks like there's a new candidate for most awesome supermaterial in town. Dentists may soon start fighting bone loss by covering our teeth in itty bitty nanodiamonds, making repairing teeth quicker, cheaper, and much less painful.
During jaw and tooth repair operations, doctors are normally forced to use invasive surgery to stick a sponge full of bone-growth-stimulating proteins near the offending area. And although effective, these surgeries tend to be expensive, time consuming, and like most invasive surgeries, pretty painful. But that all might change soon thanks to a study led by Dr. Dean Ho, professor of oral biology and medicine at the UCLA School of Dentistry.
In the study, the team found that nanodiamonds, which are byproducts of mining operations and invisible to the human eye, "bind rapidly to both bone morphogenetic protein and fibroblast growth factor," both of which essentially encourage bone and cartilage to rebuild themselves. What's more, these itty bitty diamonds are shaped like (four to five nanometer-long) soccer balls and have a relatively high surface area, so the proteins can be delivered over a longer period of time—not that getting them there in the first place will be a problem. All it takes to enjoy the benefits of these shiny tooth-savers is a simple injection or oral rinse. No invasive surgery required.
Oh, and before this, Ho's team proved that nanodiamonds may even help in treating multiple forms of cancer. There's no word yet on how long it might be before we start receiving these bone-saving diamonds grills in our local dentist's office, but one thing's for certain—nanodiamonds are ushering in a new era of less-horrible dentist visits and may even change the field of drug delivery as a whole. Eat your heart out, graphene. [Geekosystem via UCLA]