July 30 - A team of Israeli scientists has grown human bones in a laboratory using stem cells. The technique opens new possibilities for patients requiring bone repair or replacement using their own cells as building blocks. Jim Drury reports.
This human bone was grown in a laboratory using stem cells. Israeli scientists believe their pioneering work will transform the lives of patients with missing or damaged bones. The technique involves removing a patient's fat tissue using liposuction. The isolated stem cells then grow into living bone on a 3D scaffold inside an automated bioreactor machine. In trials next year a bone like this will be placed into a patient's body where scientists from Bonus BioGroup say it should grow and merge with the rest of the skeleton. Shai Meretzki is the group's CEO….. SOUNDBITE (English) CEO OF BONUS BIOGROUP, SHAI MERETZKI, SAYING: "We don't have any rejection, the cells are coming from the patient, growing in vitro and getting back to him, we have no rejection and we have bones that were grown like 'tailor suit' to the patient." It takes around four weeks to grow fully formed living bone tissue. The team has already successfully inserted a laboratory-grown human bone into a rat's leg. Doctor Ephraim Tzur regularly treats patients with bone impairments. He's impressed by the team's work. SOUNDBITE (English) EFRAIM TZUR, HEAD OF MAXILLOFACIAL AND PLASTIC SURGERY DEPARTMENT IN ASSAF HAROFEH MEDICAL CENTRE, SAYING: "The most important thing in this innovative method is that you do not carry on two operations in one man. You can build the bone outside of the body in the shape and in the architecture and even in the strength that is needed and you take it as copy-paste to the needed area. This is revolutionary, I think." The technology could ultimately allow doctors to treat bone diseases, replace bones smashed in accidents, or fill in defects such as cleft palate. Work's also under way to grow cartilage tissue which could treat musculoskeletal problems, such as tendonitis and sore joints, conditions that affect hundreds of millions of people around the world. Jim Drury, Reuters