Osteoblasts forming compact bone. Credit: Robert M. Hunt

Apropos to the new MS&T symposium on materials and the effects of electric and magnetic fields, I received a notice that there will be a paper presented tomorrow (March 17) at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society the explores possible routes for improving bone growth, grafts and implants, and looks at the role these fields could play. Yizhi Meng of Stony Brook University and her colleagues have been studying the very early stages of bone formation. Here is the abstract to her paper:

The induction of bone formation to an intentional orientation is a potentially viable clinical treatment for bone regeneration. Among the many chemical and physical factors, electric and magnetic fields are an essential way to regulate the behavior of cells and matrix fibers. The aims of this study are to investigate the effects of electric and magnetic fields on protein self-organization and osteoblast biomineralization on polymer surfaces in vitro. To this end, we use atomic force microscopy to characterize the morphology of protein fiber and ECM by cells. The mechanical property of protein fibers was investigated by shear modulation force microscopy. The late-stage of mineralization was characterized by scanning electron microscopy and grazing incident x-ray diffraction. The primary data indicated that the magnetic field could enhance the biomineralization of osteoblast.

Meng is actually presenting a series of papers at the meeting regarding bone growth, formation of calcium phosphate and biomineralization.