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Bone replacement

a new synthetic material for repairing bones London,

Sepia photograph showing spherical material binding to shards of bone.
Bone making cells adhering and multiplying on the surface of the synthetic bone graft material. Courtesy of Professor William Bonfield

In 1996 William Bonfield (born 1937) and colleagues at Queen Mary, University of London developed a synthetic bone graft material with a similar chemistry and structure to natural bone.

Before this time the only options available in bone surgery were to use bone harvested from cadavers and donated to hospital bone banks, or to transplant bone from one part of a patient’s body to another, a process known as ‘autografting’.

However both these options have distinct disadvantages. Bones from hospital banks are of variable quality, biologically inactive and do not promote bone growth. In contrast, autografts do promote bone growth but are limited in quantity, and can cause additional pain and sometimes infection.

Bonfield’s bone graft material can be used to stimulate the biological repair processes, giving surgeons a practical, new option in bone grafting operations such as hip replacements, or when reconstructing parts of the skeleton following trauma or disease.

Royal Academy of Engineering

Engineering, Medicine, Biology, Chemistry,
Queen Mary, University of London
Key Individuals
William Bonfield,