SATURDAY, July 6, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Researchers looking for a way to repair bone and treat arthritis have turned to a seemingly fragile substance to do the job: Glass.

By combining glass with a polymer, scientists at the University of Missouri-Rolla are developing a substance that can be injected into bone, much like the caulk used between bathroom tiles. Once injected, it fills in cracks and breaks and then bonds with the bone, creating a strong repair.

To treat rheumatiod arthritis, the researchers are developing tiny biodegradable glass spheres -- as small as one-tenth the diameter of a human hair -- that can be filled with radioactive medicine. The spheres will be injected into the joint, so the treatment can be delivered directly to the diseased area.

The university has received two patents for its research. One of the researcher's inventions -- radioactive glass spheres called TheraSpheres -- has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat liver cancer.

More information

The National Science Foundation has more on using glass spheres to fight cancer.

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