Research Highlight

Bone substitute from waste bird eggshell

doi:10.1038/nindia.2019.115 Published online 24 August 2019

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Indian researchers have synthesised beta-tricalcium phosphate, a commonly used bone implant material from waste bird eggshell1. This material could be used to form scaffolds that could aid the growth of specific bone-forming cells.

This development is potentially useful for replacing bone damaged in various bone-related diseases.

Damaged and missing bones are routinely replaced with bone materials isolated from a donor or using artificial materials such as hydroxyapatite. The artificial materials contain toxic nitrate compounds that, if present even in traces, could be harmful.

To find a safe and alternative way to produce bone substitute, scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad and the Dr.B.R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology in Jalandhar, both from India, produced nanopowder of beta-tricalcium phosphate from bird eggshell using ball milling, a process that grinds materials into extremely fine powder.  

The researchers, led by Bharat B Panigrahi and Subha Narayan Rath, then prepared porous scaffolds using beta-tricalcium phosphate and tested their efficiency in growing specific bone-forming cells.  

When incubated with specific human stem cells, the scaffolds allowed the cells to proliferate and invade into the micropores. The density of the cells on the scaffold surface increased with time, eventually forming a fibrous layer.

The researchers say that the fibrous layer indicates the early stages of extracellular matrix formation. The cells on the surface secrete collagen, a protein that forms the extracellular matrix – a key step in bone formation.

Eggshell waste, an abundant eco-friendly source, could replace the commercially available harmful sources for beta-tricalcium phosphate, they add. 




1. Roopavath, U. K. et al. Mechanochemically synthesized phase stable and biocompatible β-tricalcium phosphate from avian eggshell for the development of tissue ingrowth system. Ceram. Int. 45, 12910-12919 (2019)