LOWELL, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Eggshells mixed with bone cells might just be the future of medicine.
Certain properties in eggshells are also found in human bones, making them an ideal component in healing, according to a new study from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
The eggshells are combined with hydrogel — a flexible material made of mostly water.
The concoction is used to mend broken bones, and could potentially help grow teeth, cartilage, and tendons. The idea is that, over time, the bone will heal and the eggshell particles will be absorbed into the body.
Gulden Camci-Unal is an assistant professor at the department of chemical engineering at UMass Lowell and lead researcher in the study.
“What we observed was, when we mixed eggshells into the hydrogel mixture, is they increase the bone cell’s ability to grow and harden, which could potentially result in faster healing,” Camci-Unal said.
Including the patient’s own bone cells could decrease the risk of rejection from the body.
The eggshells would potentially be sourced from businesses who would otherwise toss them out. The impact of using thrown-out shells is economically effective and beneficial to the environment as well, according to Camci-Unal.
“[Eggshells] are considered as waste. We are taking those, and we are making useful biomedical materials,” Camci-Unal said
The future of the product is still in the works.
“We are currently in touch with clinicians, and we’re discussing with them the current needs of patients in the clinic, on a day-to-day basis so that we can improve our material…based on the clinic’s needs,” Camci-Unal said.
Researchers are also looking into how this innovation could potentially react with someone who has an allergy to egg products.
“We would like the patients to benefit from our material,” Camci-Unal added.
The study has only used shells from chicken eggs so far, but the research group does have eggs from other animals.
The researchers spent 18 months on this study, and are in the process of securing a patent. It’ll be a little while longer before the substance is applied to humans.