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March 18th, 2005

How the tooth's armour is built

Clues about how the organic matrix of tooth enamel is woven together from self-assembling protein nanospheres might help the design of artificial mimics of this hard material.

Researchers in the USA and Italy have now uncovered some of the secrets likely to lie behind the nanoscale self-assembly of enamel from a mixture of proteins and inorganic crystals. Although the details of how enamel forms in vivo are still poorly known, Janet Maradian-Oldak of the University of Southern California and colleagues find that the key proteins involved in the process will aggregate in vitro into hierarchically organized, microscopic ribbon-like structures.

* Nature

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