BOB HIRSHON (host):
Foam to repair faces. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Engineers at Texas A&M have developed a new type of shape-shifting polymer that could be used to treat facial deformities. Materials scientist Melissa Grunlan led the team. She says the polymer, which resembles foam, can fill bone defects.
MELISSA GRUNLAN (Texas A&M University):
We just apply some warm saline to it, it softens, and then you press it into an irregular bone defect, it starts to expand, and the foam meets up with boundaries of that defect. And so then as the body starts the healing process and new bone tissue is formed, that foam starts to dissolve away, so what you’re left with at the end is just new bone tissue, and that material is gone.
She says the new material is less brittle than existing polymers, and more flexible than bone grafts. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.