BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7395.940 (Published 26 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:940

First it was smart cards, and now we have “smart” material. Tissue engineers have produced a synthetic material that interacts with the body's own cells to promote new bone growth (Nature Biotechnology 2003; doi 10.1038/nbt818). The material involves an artificial scaffold with two short protein sequences attached. The first sequence helps cells stick to the scaffold. The second allows incoming cells to break down the scaffold, which in turn releases the proteins needed to stimulate bone formation.

Mammals have a two to three week “critical period” when the auditory cortex rapidly reorganises. During this time, the neurons cluster together and become more selective about the pitches to which they respond. When scientists exposed baby rats to white noise during this period, they observed a dramatic slowing down of the reorganisation. When the noise was eliminated, brain development in this cortex continued. The authors say there may be implications for hearing and language development in human babies (Science 2003;300: 498-502)

What use are brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) measurements? One lot of investigators wondered if high levels of the peptide in people with normal blood pressure indicates a greater risk of high blood pressure in the future. Their analysis of data from the …

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