We compared the mechanical properties of 'ordinary' bovine bone, the highly mineralized bone of the rostrum of the whale Mesoplodon densirostris, and mother of pearl (nacre) of the pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera. The rostrum and the nacre are similar in having very little organic material. However, the rostral bone is much weaker and more brittle than nacre, which in these properties is close to ordinary bone. The ability of nacre to outperform rostral bone is the result of its extremely well-ordered microstructure, with organic material forming a nearly continuous jacket round all the tiny aragonite plates, a design well adapted to produce toughness. In contrast, in the rostrum the organic material, mainly collagen, is poorly organized and discontinuous, allowing the mineral to join up to form, in effect, a brittle stony material.
Over the past decades, our understanding of nacre's toughening origin has long stayed at the level of crack deflection along the biopolymer interface between aragonite platelets. It has been widely thought that the ceramic aragonite platelets in nacre invariably remain shielded from the propagating crack. Here we report an unexpected experimental observation that the propagating crack, surprisingly, invades the aragonite platelet following a zigzag crack propagation trajectory. The toughening origin of previously-thought brittle aragonite platelet is ascribed to its unique nanoparticle-architecture, which tunes crack propagation inside the aragonite platelet in an intergranular manner. For comparison, we also investigated the crack behavior in geologic aragonite mineral (pure monocrystal) and found that the crack propagates in a cleavage fashion, in sharp contrast with the intergranular cracking in the aragonite platelet of nacre. These two fundamentally different cracking mechanisms uncover a new toughening strategy in nacre's hierarchical flaw-tolerance design.
Nacre, the crown jewel of natural materials, has been extensively studied owing to its remarkable physical properties for over 160 years. Yet, the precise structural features governing its extraordinary strength and its growth mechanism remain elusive. In this paper, we present a series of observations pertaining to the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) shell's organic–inorganic interface, organic interlayer morphology and properties, large-area crystal domain orientations and nacre growth. In particular, we describe unique lateral nano-growths and paired screw dislocations in the aragonite layers, and demonstrate that the organic material sandwiched between aragonite platelets consists of multiple organic layers of varying nano-mechanical resilience. Based on these novel observations and analysis, we propose a spiral growth model that accounts for both  vertical propagation via helices that surround numerous screw dislocation cores and simultaneous 〈010〉 lateral growth of aragonite sheet structure. These new findings may aid in creating novel organic–inorganic micro/nano composites through synthetic or biomineralization pathways.
nacre; biomineralization; crystal growth
The initial growth of the nacreous layer is crucial for comprehending the formation of nacreous aragonite. A flat pearl method in the presence of the inner-shell film was conducted to evaluate the role of matrix proteins in the initial stages of nacre biomineralization in vivo. We examined the crystals deposited on a substrate and the expression patterns of the matrix proteins in the mantle facing the substrate. In this study, the aragonite crystals nucleated on the surface at 5 days in the inner-shell film system. In the film-free system, the calcite crystals nucleated at 5 days, a new organic film covered the calcite, and the aragonite nucleated at 10 days. This meant that the nacre lamellae appeared in the inner-shell film system 5 days earlier than that in the film-free system, timing that was consistent with the maximum level of matrix proteins during the first 20 days. In addition, matrix proteins (Nacrein, MSI60, N19, N16 and Pif80) had similar expression patterns in controlling the sequential morphologies of the nacre growth in the inner-film system, while these proteins in the film-free system also had similar patterns of expression. These results suggest that matrix proteins regulate aragonite nucleation and growth with the inner-shell film in vivo.
Mineral-producing organisms exert exquisite control on all aspects of biomineral production. Among shell-bearing organisms, a wide range of mineral fabrics are developed reflecting diverse modes of life that require different material properties. Our knowledge of how biomineral structures relate to material properties is still limited because it requires the determination of these properties on a detailed scale. Nanoindentation, mostly applied in engineering and materials science, is used here to assess, at the microstructural level, material properties of two calcite brachiopods living in the same environment but with different modes of life and shell ultrastructure. Values of hardness (H) and the Young modulus of elasticity (E) are determined by nanoindentation. In brachiopod shells, calcite semi-nacre provides a harder and stiffer structure (H∼3–6 GPa; E=60–110/120 GPa) than calcite fibres (H=0–3 GPa; E=20–60/80 GPa). Thus, brachiopods with calcite semi-nacre can cement to a substrate and remain immobile during their adult life cycle. This correlation between mode of life and material properties, as a consequence of ultrastructure, begins to explain why organisms produce a wide range of structures using the same chemical components, such as calcium carbonate.
nanoindentation; brachiopod; biomineral; shell ultrastructure; ecology
Nature has created amazing materials during the process of evolution, inspiring scientists to studiously mimic them. Nacre is of particular interest, and it has been studied for more than half-century for its strong, stiff, and tough attributes resulting from the recognized “brick-and-mortar” (B&M) layered structure comprised of inorganic aragonite platelets and biomacromolecules. The past two decades have witnessed great advances in nacre-mimetic composites, but they are solely limited in films with finite size (centimetre-scale). To realize the adream target of continuous nacre-mimics with perfect structures is still a great challenge unresolved. Here, we present a simple and scalable strategy to produce bio-mimic continuous fibres with B&M structures of alternating graphene sheets and hyperbranched polyglycerol (HPG) binders via wet-spinning assembly technology. The resulting macroscopic supramolecular fibres exhibit excellent mechanical properties comparable or even superior to nacre and bone, and possess fine electrical conductivity and outstanding corrosion-resistance.
Mollusks shell formation is mediated by matrix proteins and many of these proteins have been identified and characterized. However, the mechanisms of protein control remain unknown. Here, we report the ubiquitylation of matrix proteins in the prismatic layer of the pearl oyster, Pinctada fucata. The presence of ubiquitylated proteins in the prismatic layer of the shell was detected with a combination of western blot and immunogold assays. The coupled ubiquitins were separated and identified by Edman degradation and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS). Antibody injection in vivo resulted in large amounts of calcium carbonate randomly accumulating on the surface of the nacreous layer. These ubiquitylated proteins could bind to specific faces of calcite and aragonite, which are the two main mineral components of the shell. In the in vitro calcium carbonate crystallization assay, they could reduce the rate of calcium carbonate precipitation and induce the calcite formation. Furthermore, when the attached ubiquitins were removed, the functions of the EDTA-soluble matrix of the prismatic layer were changed. Their potency to inhibit precipitation of calcium carbonate was decreased and their influence on the morphology of calcium carbonate crystals was changed. Taken together, ubiquitylation is involved in shell formation. Although the ubiquitylation is supposed to be involved in every aspect of biophysical processes, our work connected the biomineralization-related proteins and the ubiquitylation mechanism in the extracellular matrix for the first time. This would promote our understanding of the shell biomineralization and the ubiquitylation processes.
Under high-strain-rate compression (strain rate ∼103 s−1), nacre (mother-of-pearl) exhibits surprisingly high fracture strength vis-à-vis under quasi-static loading (strain rate 10−3 s−1). Nevertheless, the underlying mechanism responsible for such sharply different behaviors in these two loading modes remains completely unknown. Here we report a new deformation mechanism, adopted by nacre, the best-ever natural armor material, to protect itself against predatory penetrating impacts. It involves the emission of partial dislocations and the onset of deformation twinning that operate in a well-concerted manner to contribute to the increased high-strain-rate fracture strength of nacre. Our findings unveil that Mother Nature delicately uses an ingenious strain-rate-dependent stiffening mechanism with a purpose to fight against foreign attacks. These findings should serve as critical design guidelines for developing engineered body armor materials.
Materials with both high strength and toughness are in great demand for a wide range of applications, requiring strict design of ingredients and hierarchically ordered architecture from nano- to macro-scale. Nacre achieves such a target in the long natural evolution by alternative alignment of inorganic nanoplatelets and biomacromolecules. To mimic nacre, various strategies were developed, approaching nacre-comparable performance in limited size. How to remarkably exceed nacre in both property and size is a key issue to further the advancement of composites. Here we present liquid crystal self-templating methodology to make the next generation of ultrastrong and tough nacre-mimics continuously. The hierarchically assembled composites show the highest tensile strength (652 MPa) among nacre mimics, five to eight times as high as that of nacre (80–135 MPa), and excellent ductility with toughness of 18 MJ m−3, one to two orders of magnitude greater than that of nacre (0.1 ~ 1.8 MJ m−3).
Nacre, when implanted in vivo in bones of dogs, sheep, mice, and humans, induces a biological response that includes integration and osteogenic activity on the host tissue that seems to be activated by a set of proteins present in the nacre water-soluble matrix (WSM). We describe here an experimental approach that can accurately identify the proteins present in the WSM of shell mollusk nacre. Four proteins (three gigasin-2 isoforms and a cystatin A2) were for the first time identified in WSM of Crassostrea gigas nacre using 2DE and LC-MS/MS for protein identification. These proteins are thought to be involved in bone remodeling processes and could be responsible for the biocompatibility shown between bone and nacre grafts. These results represent a contribution to the study of shell biomineralization process and opens new perspectives for the development of new nacre biomaterials for orthopedic applications.
We show how nacre and pearl construction in bivalve and gastropod molluscs can be understood in terms of successive processes of controlled self-assembly from the molecular- to the macro-scale. This dynamics involves the physics of the formation of both solid and liquid crystals and of membranes and fluids to produce a nanostructured hierarchically constructed biological composite of polysaccharides, proteins and mineral, whose mechanical properties far surpass those of its component parts.
biomineralization; nacre; molluscs; β-chitin
Biological materials possess unique and desirable energy-absorbing mechanisms and structural characteristics worthy of consideration by engineers. For example, high levels of energy dissipation at low strain rates via triggering of crack delocalization combined with interfacial hardening by platelet interlocking are observed in brittle materials such as nacre, the iridescent material in seashells. Such behaviours find no analogy in current engineering materials. The potential to mimic such toughening mechanisms on different length scales now exists, but the question concerning their suitability under dynamic loading conditions and whether these mechanisms retain their energy-absorbing potential is unclear. This paper investigates the kinematic behaviour of an ‘engineered’ nacre-like structure within a high strain-rate environment. A finite-element (FE) model was developed which incorporates the pertinent biological design features. A parametric study was carried out focusing on (i) the use of an overlapping discontinuous tile arrangement for crack delocalization and (ii) application of tile waviness (interfacial hardening) for improved post-damage behaviour. With respect to the material properties, the model allows the permutation and combination of a variety of different material datasets. The advantage of such a discontinuous material shows notable improvements in sustaining high strain-rate deformation relative to an equivalent continuous morphology. In the case of the continuous material, the shockwaves propagating through the material lead to localized failure while complex shockwave patterns are observed in the discontinuous flat tile arrangement, arising from platelet interlocking. The influence of the matrix properties on impact performance is investigated by varying the dominant material parameters. The results indicate a deceleration of the impactor velocity, thus delaying back face nodal displacement. A final series of FE models considered the identification of an optimized configuration as a function of tile waviness and matrix properties. In the combined model, the optimized configuration was capable of stopping the ballistic threat, thus indicating the potential for bioinspired toughened synthetic systems to defeat high strain-rate threats.
nacre; dynamic impact; material discontinuity; interlocking; finite-element modelling
Bivalve nacre is a brick-wall-patterned biocomposite of aragonite platelets surrounded by organic matter. SEM–electron back scatter diffraction analysis of nacre of the bivalve family Pteriidae reveals that early aragonite crystals grow with their c-axes oriented perpendicular to the growth surface but have their a- and b-axes disoriented. With the accumulation of successive lamellae, crystals progressively orient themselves with their b-axes mutually parallel and towards the growth direction. We propose that progressive orientation is a result of competition between nacre crystals at the growth front of lamellae, which favours selection of crystals whose fastest growth axis (b-axis) is oriented parallel to the direction of propagation of the lamella. A theoretical model has been developed, which simulates competition of rhombic plates at the lamellar growth front as well as epitaxial growth of crystals onto those of the preceding lamella. The model predicts that disordered nacre progressively produces bivalve-like oriented nacre. As growth fronts become diffuse (as is the common case in bivalves) it takes longer for nacre to become organized. Formation of microdomains of nacre platelets with different orientations is also reproduced. In conclusion, not only the organic matrix component, but also the mineral phase plays an active role in organizing the final microstructure.
biomineralization; microstructure; crystallography; shell; nacre; bivalves
The fascination for hierarchically structured hard tissues such as enamel or nacre arises from their unique structure-properties-relationship. During the last decades this numerously motivated the synthesis of composites, mimicking the brick-and-mortar structure of nacre. However, there is still a lack in synthetic engineering materials displaying a true hierarchical structure. Here, we present a novel multi-step processing route for anisotropic 2-level hierarchical composites by combining different coating techniques on different length scales. It comprises polymer-encapsulated ceramic particles as building blocks for the first level, followed by spouted bed spray granulation for a second level, and finally directional hot pressing to anisotropically consolidate the composite. The microstructure achieved reveals a brick-and-mortar hierarchical structure with distinct, however not yet optimized mechanical properties on each level. It opens up a completely new processing route for the synthesis of multi-level hierarchically structured composites, giving prospects to multi-functional structure-properties relationships.
The endoskeletal structure of the Sea Urchin, Centrostephanus rodgersii, has numerous long spines whose known functions include locomotion, sensing, and protection against predators. These spines have a remarkable internal microstructure and are made of single-crystal calcite. A finite-element model of the spine’s unique porous structure, based on micro-computed tomography (microCT) and incorporating anisotropic material properties, was developed to study its response to mechanical loading. Simulations show that high stress concentrations occur at certain points in the spine’s architecture; brittle cracking would likely initiate in these regions. These analyses demonstrate that the organization of single-crystal calcite in the unique, intricate morphology of the sea urchin spine results in a strong, stiff and lightweight structure that enhances its strength despite the brittleness of its constituent material.
Mollusc shells are commonly investigated using high-resolution imaging techniques based on
cryo-fixation. Less detailed information is available regarding the light-optical properties. Sea shells of Haliotis pulcherina were embedded for polishing in defined orientations in order to investigate the interface between prismatic calcite and nacreous aragonite by standard materialographic methods. A polished thin section of the interface was prepared with a defined thickness of 60 μm for quantitative birefringence analysis using polarized light and LC-PolScope microscopy. Scanning electron microscopy images were obtained for comparison. In order to study structural-mechanical relationships, nanoindentation experiments were performed.
Incident light microscopy revealed a super-structure in semi-transparent regions of the polished cross-section under a defined angle. This super-structure is not visible in transmitted birefringence analysis due to the blurred polarization of small nacre platelets and numerous organic interfaces. The relative orientation and homogeneity of calcite prisms was directly identified, some of them with their optical axes exactly normal to the imaging plane. Co-oriented "prism colonies" were identified by polarized light analyses. The nacreous super-structure was also visualized by secondary electron imaging under defined angles. The domains of the super-structure were interpreted to consist of crystallographically aligned platelet stacks. Nanoindentation experiments showed that mechanical properties changed with the same periodicity as the domain size.
In this study, we have demonstrated that insights into the growth mechanisms of nacre can be obtained by conventional light-optical methods. For example, we observed super-structures formed by co-oriented nacre platelets as previously identified using X-ray Photo-electron Emission Microscopy (X-PEEM) [Gilbert et al., Journal of the American Chemical Society 2008, 130:17519–17527]. Polarized optical microscopy revealed unprecedented super-structures in the calcitic shell part. This bears, in principle, the potential for in vivo studies, which might be useful for investigating the growth modes of nacre and other shell types.
Aminostratigraphies of Quaternary non-marine deposits in Europe have been previously based on the racemization of a single amino acid in aragonitic shells from land and freshwater molluscs. The value of analysing multiple amino acids from the opercula of the freshwater gastropod Bithynia, which are composed of calcite, has been demonstrated. The protocol used for the isolation of intra-crystalline proteins from shells has been applied to these calcitic opercula, which have been shown to more closely approximate a closed system for indigenous protein residues. Original amino acids are even preserved in bithyniid opercula from the Eocene, showing persistence of indigenous organics for over 30 million years. Geochronological data from opercula are superior to those from shells in two respects: first, in showing less natural variability, and second, in the far better preservation of the intra-crystalline proteins, possibly resulting from the greater stability of calcite. These features allow greater temporal resolution and an extension of the dating range beyond the early Middle Pleistocene. Here we provide full details of the analyses for 480 samples from 100 horizons (75 sites), ranging from Late Pliocene to modern. These show that the dating technique is applicable to the entire Quaternary. Data are provided from all the stratotypes from British stages to have yielded opercula, which are shown to be clearly separable using this revised method. Further checks on the data are provided by reference to other type-sites for different stages (including some not formally defined). Additional tests are provided by sites with independent geochronology, or which can be associated with a terrace stratigraphy or biostratigraphy. This new aminostratigraphy for the non-marine Quaternary deposits of southern Britain provides a framework for understanding the regional geological and archaeological record. Comparison with reference to sites yielding independent geochronology, in combination with other lines of evidence, allows tentative correlation with the marine oxygen isotope record.
► A stratigraphy using the intra-crystalline protein from the calcitic opercula of Bithynia is presented. ► Focused on Britain, but also using samples from a few continental sites, the coverage has been extended back to ∼3 Ma. ► This aminostratigraphy is consistent with independent geochronology, terrace stratigraphy and biostratigraphy. ► The aminostratigraphic framework has been linked to the marine oxygen isotope stratigraphy.
Amino acid geochronology; Intra-crystalline protein decomposition; Palaeolithic; Pleistocene; Interglacial
Cyanobacteria belonging to the Synechococcus group are ubiquitous inhabitants of diverse marine and freshwater environments. Through interactions with the soluble constituents of their aqueous habitats, they inevitably affect the chemistry of the waters they inhabit. Synechococcus strain GL24 was isolated from Fayetteville Green Lake, New York, where it has a demonstrated role in the formation of calcitic minerals. In order to understand the detailed interactions which lead to mineral formation by this organism, we have undertaken detailed ultrastructural studies of its cell surface and the initial events in mineral growth using a variety of electron microscopic and computer image enhancement techniques. Synechococcus strain GL24 has a hexagonally symmetrical S layer as its outermost cell surface component. The constituent protein(s) of this structure appears as a double band by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis with M(r)s of 104,000 and 109,000. We demonstrate that the S layer acts as a template for fine-grain gypsum and calcite formation by providing discrete, regularly arranged nucleation sites for the critical initial events in the mineralization process. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a bacterial S layer has been shown to have a role in mineral formation in a natural environment, and this report provides conclusive evidence for the specific involvement of bacterial surfaces in natural mineral formation processes.
Microstructure of the teeth of the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus was investigated using optical microscopy, SEM (scanning electron microscopy) and SIMS (secondary ion mass spectroscopy). The study focused on the internal structure of the first-stage mineral structures of high Mg calcite (primary, secondary and carinar process plates; prisms) and on morphology of the columns of second-stage mineral (very high Mg calcite) that cement the first-stage material together. Optical micrographs under polarized light revealed contrast in the centers (midlines) of carinar process plates and in prisms in polished sections; staining of primary and carinar process plates revealed significant dye uptake at the plate centers. Demineralization with and without fixation revealed that the midlines of primary and carinar process plates (but not secondary plates) and the centers of prisms differed from the rest of the plate or prism, and SIMS showed proteins concentrated in these plate centers. SEM was used to study the morphology of columns, the fracture surfaces of mature teeth and the 3D morphology of prisms. These observations of internal structures in plates and prisms offer new insight into the mineralization process and suggest an important role for protein inclusions within the first-stage mineral. Some of the 3D structures not reported previously, such as twisted prisms and stacks of carinar process plates with nested wrinkles, may represent structural strengthening strategies.
sea urchin; tooth; biomineralization; calcite; SIMS; SEM
Myostracum, which is connected from the umbo to the edge of a scar, is not a single layer composed of prismatic layers, but a hierarchically complex multilayered shape composed of minerals and an organic matrix. Through the analysis of the secondary structure, the results revealed that a β-antiparallel structure was predominant in the mineral phase interface between the myostracum (aragonite) and bottom folia (calcite). After the complete decalcification and deproteinization, the membrane obtained from the interface between the myostracum buried in upper folia, and the bottom folia was identified as chitin. The transitional zone in the interface between the adductor muscle scar and folia are verified. The myostracum disappeared at the edge of the scar of the posterior side. From this study, the entire structure of the myostracum from the adult oyster shell of Crassostrea gigas could be proposed.
Aminostratigraphic studies of continental deposits in the UK have hitherto relied almost exclusively on data from the aragonitic shells of non-marine molluscs for dating Pleistocene sequences. This is usually based on the d/l value of a single amino acid, d-alloisoleucine/l-isoleucine (A/I), in the total shell proteins. Two genera of freshwater gastropods (Valvata and Bithynia) are used to explore the value of using multiple amino acids from the intra-crystalline fraction, which should be more protected from the effects of diagenesis than the inter-crystalline component. Results are compared from both the aragonitic shells and opercula composed of calcite, a more stable form of calcium carbonate. In order to put the amino acid data from the West Runton Freshwater Bed into perspective, statistical analyses are used to compare them with results from the Hoxnian (MIS 11) site at Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. Twelve protein decomposition indicators revealed that the results from the shells were not as clear-cut as those from the opercula. Five indicators from the Valvata shell suggest that West Runton is older than Clacton (at a 95% significance level), but two actually suggested a younger age. Seven indicators show that the Bithynia shells from West Runton are older than congeneric shells from Clacton. In marked contrast, all 12 indicators isolated from the opercula demonstrate that West Runton is significantly older than Clacton. The data are also compared with results from Waverley Wood, an important archaeological site in the English Midlands falling within the ‘Cromerian Complex’. Contrary to earlier interpretations, the new amino acid data from Bithynia opercula indicate that West Runton is older than Waverley Wood, a relationship now consistent with the available biostratigraphy.
The triangle sail mussel Hyriopsis cumingii (Lea) is the most important mussel species used for commercial freshwater pearl production in China. Mussel color is an important indicator of pearl quality. To identify genes involved in the nacre coloring, we conducted RNA-seq and obtained 541,268 sequences (298 bp average size) and 440,034 sequences (293 bp average size) in secreting purple and white nacre libraries (P- and W-libraries), respectively. The 981,302 Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) were assembled into 47,812 contigs and 289,386 singletons. In BLASTP searches of the deduced protein, 22,495 were proteins with functional annotations. Thirty-three genes involved in pearl or shell formation were identified. Digital expression analysis identified a total of 358 differentially expressed genes, and 137 genes in the P-library and 221 genes in the W-library showed significantly higher expression. Furthermore, a set of SSR motifs and SNPs between the two samples was identified from the ESTs, which provided the markers for genetic linkage, QTL analysis and future breeding. These EST sequences provided valuable information to further understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the formation, color determination and evolution of the pearl or shell.
Marine surface waters are being acidified due to uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, resulting in surface ocean areas of undersaturation with respect to carbonate minerals, including aragonite. In the Arctic Ocean, acidification is expected to occur at an accelerated rate with respect to the global oceans, but a paucity of baseline data has limited our understanding of the extent of Arctic undersaturation and of regional variations in rates and causes. The lack of data has also hindered refinement of models aimed at projecting future trends of ocean acidification. Here, based on more than 34,000 data records collected in 2010 and 2011, we establish a baseline of inorganic carbon data (pH, total alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon, partial pressure of carbon dioxide, and aragonite saturation index) for the western Arctic Ocean. This data set documents aragonite undersaturation in ∼20% of the surface waters of the combined Canada and Makarov basins, an area characterized by recent acceleration of sea ice loss. Conservative tracer studies using stable oxygen isotopic data from 307 sites show that while the entire surface of this area receives abundant freshwater from meteoric sources, freshwater from sea ice melt is most closely linked to the areas of carbonate mineral undersaturation. These data link the Arctic Ocean’s largest area of aragonite undersaturation to sea ice melt and atmospheric CO2 absorption in areas of low buffering capacity. Some relatively supersaturated areas can be linked to localized biological activity. Collectively, these observations can be used to project trends of ocean acidification in higher latitude marine surface waters where inorganic carbon chemistry is largely influenced by sea ice meltwater.
The impact of non-accrued clinical research (NACR) represents an important economic burden that is under consideration as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services looks into reforming the regulations governing IRB review. NACR refers to clinical research projects that fail to enroll subjects. A delineation of the issues surrounding NACR is expected to enhance subject accrual and to minimize occurrence of NACR. The authors assessed demographics, characteristics, and reasons for NACR at an academic medical center, including time trends, funding source, research team (principal investigator, department), IRB resource utilization (IRB level of review, number of required IRB reviews, initial IRB turn-around time, and duration of NACR).
The authors analyzed data from 848 clinical research study closures during 2010 and 2011 to determine proportion, incidence, and characteristics of NACR. Studies with subject enrollment during the same time period were used as a comparative measure.
Data from 704 (83.0%) study closures reported enrollment of 1 or more subjects while 144 (17.0 %) reported NACR (zero enrollment). PI-reported reasons for NACR included: 32 (22.2%) contract or funding issues; 43 (30.0%) insufficient study-dedicated resources; 41 (28.4%) recruitment issues; 17 (11.8%) sponsor-initiated study closure and 11 (7.6%) were “other/reason unreported”.
NACR is not uncommon, affecting about one in six clinical research projects in the study population and reported to be more common in some other institutions. The complex and fluid nature of research conduct, non-realistic enrollment goals, and delays in both the approval and/or accrual processes contribute to NACR. Results suggest some simple strategies that investigators and institutions may use to reduce NACR, including careful feasibility assessment, reduction of institutional delays, and prompt initiation of subject accrual for multi-center studies using competitive enrollment. Institutional action to support investigators in the conduct clinical research is also encouraged to reduce likelihood of NACR.
Clinical research; Recruitment issues; Accrual
Biocalcification of collagen matrices with calcium phosphate and biosilicification of diatom frustules with amorphous silica are two discrete processes that have intrigued biologists and materials scientists for decades. Recent advancements in the understanding of the mechanisms involved in these two biomineralisation processes have resulted in the use of biomimetic strategies to replicate these processes separately using polyanionic, polycationic or zwitterionic analogues of extracellular matrix proteins to stabilise amorphous mineral precursor phases. To date, there is a lack of a universal model that enables the subtleties of these two apparently dissimilar biomineralisation processes to be studied together. Here, we utilise the eggshell membrane as a universal model for differential biomimetic calcification and silicification. By manipulating the eggshell membrane to render it permeable to stabilised mineral precursors, it is possible to introduce nanostructured calcium phosphate or silica into eggshell membrane fibre cores or mantles. We provide a model for infiltrating the two compartmental niches of a biopolymer membrane with different intrafibre minerals to obtain materials with potentially improved structure-property relationships.
apatite; biomineralisation; silica; membrane