Coral's Use In Bone Transplant Take Step Forward
A new process in the preparation of treating coral to be used as a bone transplant may allow more wide spread use of the technique. Traditional bone transplants required two operations, one to remove a piece of bone from a person and later another to install the new piece.Over the last few decades the use of coral in the transplant process allowed for just one operation. Many scuba divers have looked at dead coral and seen the similarities between coral and bones. Rodney White, a doctor, and nephew Rodney White, a med student, were scuba diving in 1988, when Doctor White also realized the similarities. He, however, took the comparison further and looked at the structure. It became clear to him that the coral and human bone uses a very similar molecular structure. After some refinement Coralline hydroxyapatite (CHA) from coral has been used as bone graft material. The substances is accepted by the recipients body and will not trigger a rejection process which can occur with transplants from other sources such as a third party donor. The CHA, however, has some limitations.The bones in humans and animals are in a constant state of regeneration and death. Bone cells die off and are absorbed by the body as new cells grow. Exercise and stressing bone material causes this process to speed up creating stronger bones. CHA does not bio-degrade. It does not break down as new cells are created. In some locations of the body this can cause a problem limiting the locations of bones being transplanted in this means.The process may also lead to complications including interior bacterial growth, pain and miss shaped bones.Last year, a research team at Swansea University lead by Doctor Zhidao Xia published a study announcing a more compatible grafting method. Starting with the same process, coral is partially converted to CHA and then further refining the extracted calcium carbonate into something called coralline hydroxyapatite/calcium carbonate (CHACC).Limited clinician trails on 16 patients showed bone growth on average within four months. The CHACC significantly bio-degraded between 18 and 24 months. On average, The CHACC had fully bio-degraded after two years. The new process will lend itself to a wide range of bones that can be transplanted.
The OkCoral lab in Israel's Negev Desert is one "Farm" that is looking forward to the implementation of the new process. Built six years ago at a cost of over $2.5 million dollars, the farm grows coral specifically for medical purposes. The farm still needs the approval of authorities in the European Union and U.S.which they expect within the year. Another Israel company, CoreBone, is looking forward to his approvals. The corals grown in the lab are free from any pathogens that would need to be removed. The OKCoral has a growth rate about 10 times faster than nature and is a sustainable source.
Corals have also played a part in traditional medicine (TM). While often scoffed at in the past, many scientists are now looking at TM in a new light. According to the Nature Conservancy, various sea corals might contain both anti-viral drugs and anti-cancer agents, as well as elements that can help fight asthma, arthritis and Alzheimer's.