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Getting Out the Thorn

Biomaterials become friendlier to the body

The practice of replacing injured or worn-out body parts with something other than flesh and blood goes back centuries. But not until recently have doctors been inserting completely humanmade materials into their patients, and today, it's downright routine. Each year, millions of patients are fitted with temporary or permanent parts, such as plastic heart valves and catheters and silicon breast implants. To be sure, it's a medical marvel.

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