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Same calcium crystal makes bones, teeth

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U.S. researchers have found that bone and tooth enamel start with the same calcium-phosphate crystals, but end up quite different in structure and properties.

The difference in bone and enamel microstructure is attributed to amelogenin, a key protein in enamel that molds crystals into strands thousands of times longer and much stronger than those in bone.The researchers, at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Southern California have identified the protein that interacts with the enamel crystals. The results, they said, explain how microscopic spheres of amelogenin cluster like bowling balls around developing enamel crystals, forcing the crystals to elongate into thin, weaved strands that endow enamel with the strength of steel.The discovery could help scientists to use nanotechnology to engineer tissues, implants and synthetic coatings based on nature’s rules, they said. (Source: United Press, Sept 2004)

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Posted On: 30 September, 2004
Modified On: 7 December, 2013

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