Home IN THE NEWS Could crushed eggshells help to repair bone damage?

Could crushed eggshells help to repair bone damage?

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Researches from the University of Massachusetts Lowell have led a new study to show how crushed eggshells could be the way forward in fixing bone damage.

Eggshells are made entirely of calcium carbonate, a substance that is crucial for maintaining bone health. For this reason, some people crush eggshells into a powder and use this as a natural calcium supplement for their bones.

What is Calcium & what does it do?

Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. As well as building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat. About 99% of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones & teeth.

Every day we are losing calcium through our skin, nails, hair, sweat etc. Our bodies do not produce its own calcium, that is why its important to get enough calcium through the foods that we eat. When we don’t get enough calcium that the body needs, it is taken from our bones. Too often, bones get weak & easier to break. (Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation.)

The Study

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell have finely crushed eggshells to create a biomaterial that helps bones regenerate after having sustained damage.

In their study, assistant Professor Gulden Camci-Unal and her colleagues from UMass have used an innovative process to create a medium that can help scientists grow new bone tissue by using eggshells.

To date, they have conducted laboratory and in vivo experiments using a rat model to test their novel process. However, the scientists believe that in the near future their biomaterial could become available for use in humans receiving treatment for bone damage.

The researchers innovative process involves adding finely crushed eggshells from chicken eggs to a hydrogel mixture. This allows them to form a frame in which new bone can form from bone cells.

Because the eggshells are made up of calcium, it allows the bone cells to both develop into bone tissue and harden faster. This could also speed up healing in the context of a bone graft, which is a type of surgery were specialists transplant new bone tissue at the site of a damaged bone to allow it to heal.

Although in this study the researchers tested the method in rats, they argue that it should also safely apply to humans.

In the case of testing this on humans, healthcare professionals would need to collect bone cells from the people that require this transplant in order to check that the tissue will match so that the body will not reject it.

“This is the first study that uses eggshell particles in a hydrogel matrix for bone repair” states Camci-Unal, she also explains that her and her team have begun the next steps towards bringing their findings to humans.

The researchers also explained that using eggshells to grow tissue for transplants would additionally encourage more sustainable living, since it could help reduce waste. In their paper the investigators wrote:

“Global waste of discarded eggshells typically amounts to millions of tons annually from household and commercial cooking. Innovative repurposing of eggshells can directly impact the economy and environment, while providing enhanced solutions to unmet clinical needs.”

Further Reading:
1.) Eggshell particle-reinforces hydrogels for bone tissue engineering: an orthogonal approach. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2019/bm/c9bm00230h#!divAbstract

2.) Calcium & Vitamin D. National Osteoporosis Foundation. https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/