University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) researchers captured high-resolution, real-time images of the mineralisation process in an artificial saliva model. Their discovery showed distinct pathways that support bone and teeth formation, or biomineralisation.
Reza Shahbazian-Yasser, UIC professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the College of Engineering and corresponding author of the paper said: “The control over the dissolution of amorphous calcium phosphate affects the assembly of hydroxyapatite crystals into larger aggregates. Using technology developed at UIC, we found evidence that these pathways coexist simultaneously — explaining why different groups had reported seemingly different or opposite results. In addition, we now understood how hydroxyapatite materials nucleate and grow on amorphous calcium phosphate templates. The control over the nucleation and growth of hydroxyapatite will aid in developing new drugs and medical treatments to heal lost or broken bones faster or cure tooth cavities”.
To capture the images, the researchers used a unique micro-device that made it possible to use electron microscopy with a liquid model. Using this method, the researchers were able to monitor chemical reactions in the model on the smallest scale.
“Our study provides clear, new evidence of how minerals organise and grow into bone materials, and this finding has many important implications for further research on bone or teeth healing,” Shahbazian-Yasser said.
Medical conditions caused by dysfunctional mineralisation in the body can include everything from a tendency to develop cavities to osteoporosis.
“In the next step, we would like to learn how molecular modifiers can affect the process of biomineralisation, which is important to develop effective drugs,” Shahbazian-Yasser said.