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Scientists Grow Human Bones from Liposuctioned Fat

Posted By Sarah Parsons On March 30, 2010 @ 9:02 am In Design,Design for Health,Green Technology,Innovation,Social Design | 4 Comments

growing bones from stem cells, Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, stem cell research, Columbia University, bioreactor, design for health, titanium bone implants, bone grafts, growing bones from fat, growing bones from bone marrow, lab-grown bones

Growing plants can be tricky enough, but growing bones seems altogether impossible. Yet that’s exactly what scientists at Columbia University [1] recently accomplished. A group led by Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic recently used stem cells and liposuctioned fat to grow — yes, grow — actual human bones [2]. Once the process is perfected, it could eliminate the need for titanium bone replacements and painful bone grafts.

To create a particular bone, researchers use digital images to direct a machine to carve a bone replica, or scaffold. Scientists place the scaffold in a bioreactor and add in human cells from bone marrow or liposuctioned fat. Adding in oxygen, growth hormones, sugar and nutrients allow the cells to flourish, eventually growing into bone [2]. By using this process, scientists can create an exact copy of any bone in the human body.

The lab breakthrough is a huge step forward for bone-replacement procedures. Being able to grow any bone from actual human tissue [2] could eliminate the need for bone grafts [3], a painful procedure that requires harvesting bone samples from other parts of the body. Growing human bones could also replace titanium bone implants [4], which aren’t as biocompatible as human tissue.

Researchers say they’ll test the grown bones [2]in animals and a few humans, and the process may be used in hospitals within the next decade.

+ Columbia University [1]

Via Popular Science [2]

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URLs in this post:

[1] Columbia University: http://www.columbia.edu/

[2] grow — actual human bones: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-03/lab-grown-bones-based-digital-images-created-human-stem-cells

[3] bone grafts: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bonegrafts.html

[4] titanium bone implants: https://webspace.utexas.edu/reyesr/titanium/

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