Bone regenerates pretty slowly, but because it is hard tissue it is a good candidate for using scaffolds to guide its growth. All sorts of materials are being researched, and some already in use that can help orthopedic surgeons speed up healing and recovery.
A team of scientists at North Dakota State University have been investigating clays, with a very porous texture of nano-sized nooks and crannies, as a material to build tissue scaffolds that can promote healthy growth. They were able to show that the material, while traditionally thought of as being soft and pliable, can improve the strength of a scaffold and promote bone mineralization. Perhaps more importantly, the team seeded the nanoclays with amino acids that helped mediate cell differentiation and improved the rate of bone growth.
Study in Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A: Nanoclays mediate stem cell differentiation and mineralized ECM formation on biopolymer scaffolds.
Press release: NDSU research coaxes clays to make human bone