Bone Glue Discovery

We are pleased to announce the publication of our work identifying the existence of a glue in bone in the August 2005 issue of Nature Materials (also that publication’s cover story).

This glue is made of components of the organic matrix phase of bone (not the type 1 collagen phase, which comprises most of the protein and thus organic matter found in bone). It exhibits the sacrificial bond-hidden length mechanism, a remarkable natural feature in some biopolymers that makes them much harder to rupture. (In collaboration with Professors Dan Morse and Galen Stucky at UCSB, our group first discovered the sacrificial bond-hidden length mechanism in another mineralized tissue, abalone shell – Nature, 399: 761-763, 1999. Abalone shell is 97% calcium carbonate, and 3% glue – and it is 3,000 times more fracture resistant than calcium carbonate).

This publication is highly significant because introduces a component of bone – glue – that has never before been considered in research on bone health, because its existence was not known. Until now, the bone components considered important for bone mechanics have been the structure, quantity and other properties of the mineral phase of bone, and, to a lesser extent, of the collagen-1 phase. The proteoglycans, glycoproteins and other components of the organic matrix phase have been and continue to be studied in terms of their role in mineralizing bone. Our publication introduces the adhesive properties of and therefore the mechanical role that components of the organic matrix phase of bone play in their contributions to bone’s remarkable fracture-resisting properties.

Below are a few reproductions of the many mainstream and scientific press articles that were published following the announcement of our discovery.

Click for full size PDF

UCSB’s Press Release

Chemical and EngineerinG News

Scientific American