A gel material that fuses biological and synthetic substances has been found to speed bone and cartilage repair and could help heal broken bones.

Dror Seliktar of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and colleagues say that laboratory studies have shown that the gel promotes healing by gluing bone pieces together and stimulating tissue development.

Called “Gelrin,” the compound is made of two relative cheap components. “Gelrin is a brand new material engineered molecule by molecule, not just mixed together,” says Seliktar. While the two components are readily available, “it’s the way we engineer them that represents a breakthrough.”

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