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Bones yield their secret ingredient: a messy, sticky gel

By Sharon Kingman
Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
LONDON — A vital component of our bones has turned out to be a viscous gel that allows bone crystals to slide over one other. The gel, a combination of water and citrate that also bonds strongly to the calcium phosphate crystals, makes bones strong and flexible, rather than brittle. Researchers at the University of Cambridge, who have identified the components of the gel for the first time, said they believe their discovery could lead to new treatments for conditions that lead to brittle bones, such as osteoporosis. Melinda Duer, reader in biological and biomedical chemistry at the University of Cambridge, told BioWorld Today: “If we want to be able to treat osteoporosis effectively, or prevent it happening in the first place, we need to understand the structure of bone mineral at the nanoscale level."

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