Bones are composed of collagen fibers in which calcium phosphate is deposited in the form of nanocrystals.
Previously it was thought that collagen was only a template for the deposition of calcium phosphate and that bone formation was controlled by specialized biomolecules.
Now, a team of researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and the University of Illinois was successfully able to mimic the growth of calcium phosphate inside the collagen in the laboratory, just as it happens in the human body.
The researchers found that collagen fibers control the mineral formation process and thereby direct bone formation. On the other hand, the biomolecules was found to have a different role in the mineralization process: they keep the calcium phosphate in solution until mineral growth starts.