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Biologics Feature

Source: Wikimedia Commons and Johan Lindgren

Scientists Develop New Bone Growth Method

Biloine W. Young • Mon, January 29th, 2018

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Researchers at the University of Birmingham, UK and their colleagues have developed a new method for growing bone tissue “in a dish.”

They claim that their developed bone resembles its natural counterpart on both structural and functional levels and could be used for studying bone-related health issues.

Scientists in Professor Liam Grover’s (BMedSc(Hons), Ph.D., FIMMM) research group created an environment structurally similar to bone tissue at a critical stage of repair, called a fracture callus. They then grew bone cells over a one-year period in a specifically designed culture of materials created to resemble the building blocks of a fracture callus. This tailored environment, they claimed, gives the cells a perfect platform on which to carry out their normal function of promoting growth of new, healthy bone.

As Grover explained, “Osteocytes are the most numerous cells in bone, but are very difficult to maintain in culture. People can only really manage to culture them for around two weeks. What we did here, was to create a culture system where we were able to maintain this mature bone cell type for upwards of a year.” Over the one-year period the cells transformed into a different cell type—an osteocyte.

“As a result of the long-term maintenance of the osteocytes and their interactions with the ‘callus-like’ surroundings, the researchers observed a shift in the composition of the cell culture environment.” The cells eventually abandoned their initial material network and replaced it with a cell-synthesized structure comprised of natural components found in bone.”

“While multiple studies have demonstrated the growth of ‘bone-like’ structures in a lab, none, says Grover, have replicated the complex structure of bone to this extent. It, therefore, he says, represents a step forward in the field of orthopaedic research.”

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