More than half a million Europeans suffer from disorders in or serious defects of some part of their bone structure. So, graft or implant operations needed to repair the damage depend decisively on the materials used. The Nanobiocom project, funded under the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), is working on the regeneration and repair of bone tissue. Its aim is to come up with a substitute for bone tissue that can repair the bone and regenerate it in such a way that it will be able to carry out similar functions to those in its natural state.

In the case of significant deterioration of the bone, it may be necessary for the implant to provide both functional and physiological properties of the damaged item. In such circumstances, the bone implants have to comply with certain requisites capable of contributing to a reconstruction of the deteriorated bone tissue in the most efficient and least harmful way possible, without any serious repercussions. Another requirement involves the carrying out of the mechanical functions of the damaged bone while the desired regeneration takes place.

In addition, the solutions have to be capable of remedying particularly serious damage, such as those due to congenital deficiencies, degenerative illnesses, cancerous disorders and other damage caused by accidents. The implants required for this type of solutions are more complex and sophisticated than the small implants known until now.

So the Nanobiocom project will seek to develop a support (scaffold) made out of a compound material that is 'intelligent', proactive, and capable of repairing and regenerating bone tissue. For this purpose, it has to be bioactive, capable of acting on the tissue-generating system and its corresponding genes, as well as responding correctly to the physiological and biological changes, both internal and external, of that system.

It is also necessary for its size and shape characteristics, as well as its mechanical functions, to correspond with those of healthy bones.

The specific tasks of the three-year project are now on fine tuning the intelligent material, based on nanoparticles and of a biodegradable nature. Also in the pipeline is the development of the cell culture in three dimensions, as well as ensuring the biocompatibility of the material.

Ultimately, the scientists involved in the frontier research project hope it will open new doors in the development of nanobiotechnology.

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