Self-assembling nanotubes built from chemicals that make DNA could provide the basis for new artificial joints that beat those made with titanium.

Researchers at Purdue University in West-Lafayette, Indiana and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada have discovered that bone cells attach better to titanium coated with the nanotubes than to conventional titanium used to make artificial joints.

“We have demonstrated the same improved bone-cell adhesion with other materials, but these nanotubes are especially promising for biomedical applications because we’ll probably be able to tailor them for specific parts of the body,” says Purdue researcher Thomas Webster.

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