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Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claim to have identified a biomolecule that binds to the calcium compound that is the basic building block of teeth and bone.
With more study, this could be used for a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic treatments related to bones and teeth, they suggest.
The crystalline compound of calcium phosphate is called hydroxyapatite and is of considerable interest to biomedical researchers looking at issues such as bone and joint replacement and remineralization of teeth to repair damage caused by decay.
Up until now, scientists have been unable to see the formation of hydroxyapatite in living systems or tissue samples. The NIST researchers used a new technique called "phage display", which can create and screen large numbers of biomolecules for specific interactions.
Despite advances in dentistry and increased fluoridation of water, tooth decay is an increasing problem in the US, particularly among young children.
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