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Jun 09, 2014 02:10 PM EDT

Beer Brewing Waste May Help Bone Regeneration

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Beer brewing waste could help bone regeneration, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and the Institute of Materials Science and the Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry of Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas have developed biomaterials for bone regeneration from beer brewing waste.

These new materials can be considered as an alternative to the prosthesis made from processed sheep bones or synthetic materials which are more expensive and more harmful to the environment.

"The waste obtained from the beer brewing process contains the main chemical components found in bones (phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and silica), that after undergoing modification processes, this waste can be used as support or scaffold to promote bone regeneration for medical applications such as coating prosthesis or bone grafts," researchers said in a news release.

They added that the waste usage from the food industry is a great source of raw material recovery rich in chemical diversity, and simultaneously it can reduce the impact generated by the accumulation of waste in the environment.

So far, the usage of synthetic materials as bone substitutes is the most used therapy for treatment of bone diseases.

"The therapeutic strategies are based on stiff porous scaffolds made of biocompatible materials to be used as molds. These molds will provide mechanical stability and will promote the growth of the new bone tissue that helps its regeneration," researchers said.

The synthetic calcium phosphates are frequently used as matrices and coatings for orthopedic implants because of their resemblance to the composition of a bone. They are often obtained through chemical reactions of complex synthesis that use toxic reagents (for example benzoyl peroxides benzene and aniline) and calcinations at high temperatures. 

The most common products in the beer production process are bagasse, yeast and malt dried residues.

"Bagasse is constituted by organic waste from malt, never experiencing modifications afterwards. This is the reason why bagasse is considered a subproduct, commonly used to make fodder and it is inexpensive," researchers said. "The treatments applied to bagasse residue in this research give as a result a new material rich in silicon, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. The analysis of this new material shows the presence of interconnected pores of between 50 and 500 microns in diameter which is similar to the porosity of cancellous bone. All this would facilitate the complete vascularization after the bone implant."

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