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How eggshells could one day help regenerate human bone

“This is an expanding and dynamic field of research which is going to lead to great improvements in human health if we get it just right.”

So says Dr. Maxwell Hincke—a professor with the University of Ottawa’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine—while describing latest project to repurpose eggshells for application in regenerating new bone.

“The ultimate application, of course, would be in the human body,” says Dr. Hincke.

It’s one of the unique ways egg-based research is helping Canadians lead healthier lives. After blood, bone is the second most transplanted tissue worldwide.1 The most common solution in treating bone defects is an autograft procedure, where healthy bone is grafted onto the damaged area. Researchers led by Dr. Hincke believe that eggshells could be used to naturally regenerate bone tissue.

Dr. Hincke’s study tested two types of eggshell particles for suitability as bone regenerative material. The first was regular eggshell particles. The second was a nanotextured material created by treating eggshell particles with phosphoric acid. These two sets of particles were suspended in porous 3D scaffolds and then injected with human mesenchymal stem cells—cultured for 21 days. Both tests led to stronger scaffolds with an increased resistance to degradation compared to a third, blank control scaffold—suggesting both were more suitable for bone regeneration.

This exciting development means further research is possible in hopes of discovering a superior and effective way to regenerate human bone using eggshells. It’s just one example of research that Egg Farmers of Canada is investing in at universities across Canada—and just one way the humble egg is helping make life better for all of us.

“Egg Farmers of Canada have been incredible partners to work with,” says Dr. Hincke. “Their research program has been the source of funding for this research, the source of support for our graduate students—their credibility in funding our project really was the inspiration for getting the whole thing off the ground.”

Egg Farmers of Canada supports research that addresses a range of priority areas and supports innovation while also nurturing the next generation of researchers and industry experts. You can learn more about our research program by clicking here—including how researchers can apply for funding.

1 Bone substitutes in orthopaedic surgery: from basic science to clinical practice, Campana, V., Milano, G., Pagano, E. et al. Journal of Material Science: Materials in Medicine, (2014) 25: 2445.