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Bionic Healing
28 March 2016

Bionic Healing

Cursed with an infinite ability to heal, he was subjected to experimental surgery to plate his entire skeleton with adamantium, creating an indestructible assassin. So goes the story of comic book superhero Wolverine, but there is some science to be found in this fiction. The body's ability to heal is vital to the successful integration of titanium implants, from hip replacements to pacemakers. Treating these implants with an alkali significantly improves tissue healing. But how? Incubating alkali-treated or untreated titanium with human blood and fibroblast tissue cells (brown) unravels part of the puzzle. Scanning electron microscopy of these cells shows that they work together on the treated metal surface to create thicker blood clots (pictured) and release more factors that encourage blood vessel growth – key processes in tissue healing. With this model for mimicking the body's reaction to metal implants, other potential biomaterials can be more accurately tested.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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