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Human Bone Grown In Lab

Human Bone Grown In Lab

Broken bones of the future may be replaced with bones grown in the lab…

Scientists from the Columbia University have created human bone in the laboratory in a medical first that has many implications for the future.

Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic, Dr. Warren L. Grayson and the other members of the team developed the new bones, part of the joint at the back of the jaw, by using human stems cells which are then ‘built’ based upon digital images of the original bone.

human bone grown in lab 550x288 Human Bone Grown In Lab

Human Bone Grown From Stem Cells

Using a special machine, scientists carved a three dimension scaffold from cleansed bone material. The team then transformed the scaffold into living tissue by incubating the bone in a chamber molded to its exact shape while adding human cells isolated from bone marrow or liposuctioned fat, sugars and other nutrients to spur on growth.

Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic explained: “The cells grow rapidly. They don’t know whether they are in the body or in a culture. They only sense the signals.”

Traditional bone grafts are typically harvested from other parts of the body, often a traumatic step. Alternatively they can be made from materials like titanium but these aren’t always compatible with host bones or cause inflammation, explained Dr. Francis Y. Lee:

“If we have an anatomically matching scaffold that can host bone cells. This will provide a new way of reconstructing bone and cartilage defects.”

The design of the bioreactor is ingenious because it allows sources of nourishment and other fluids to permeate the pores of the scaffold as new bone grows within the pores, said Dr. Vacanti of Boston:

“Often, cells make tissue mainly on the outside of a scaffold, while cells inside tend to die. But Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic’s bioreactor permits close observation and control of additives by the research team. They can direct the flow and monitor the effect on the development of tissue,”

Other research is being conducted in to creating the perfect human bone replacement. People such as PROFESSOR Hollister at Michigan, who instead of using a bioreactor to grow them, he plants the bones directly into the jaw, is also achieving successful results.

Hollister’s scaffold for the new bone, designed from a CT scan and printed directly using a laser system, is filled with cells from bone marrow or fat that are taken from the patient to prevent immune-system reactions:

“Then we will let the patient’s body naturally heal and reconstruct the tissue as the implant is resorbed by the body,”

Many of the components to generate good bones are in place, said David L. Kaplan, professor and chairman of the department of biomedical engineering at Tufts University: “The technology is here to control the size, shape and functional features of human tissue in the lab.”

The complex problems of keeping tissue alive and integrated when implanted in the body are also well on their way to being solved, Dr. Hunziker said: “We are starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together in various combinations to generate good bone,” she said, “and it’s all going to come together in a reasonable amount of time.”

Engineered bones are being tested in animals and in a few people, and may be common in operating rooms within a decade, said Rosemarie Hunziker, a program officer at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, which sponsors research in the field, including that at Columbia.

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