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Research Highlights

Growing bone in exact shapes

October 20, 2009

Picture showing the bone matrix as it develops.

Picture series showing the bone matrix as it develops.

BME faculty member Warren Grayson, along with colleagues Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic and others, have grown bone grafts in the exact shape of a desired bone, an advance that could help provide doctors with just what they need for face, skull and other skeletal reconstructions.

Using real bone as a scaffold, they seeded each scaffold with three million commercially available human mesenchymal stem cells, which can give rise to bone, cartilage, fat and other tissues. After five weeks of cultivation in a bioreactor, feeding the cells with streams of nutrients, growth factors and oxygen, the researchers saw functional bone tissue form, taking the exact shape of the scaffold. The perfusion in the bioreactor is critical for the formation of viable bone tissue all the way through the graft, not just on the surface.

This work was published in a Special Issue in Regenerative Medicine in PNAS. Scientific American and BBC News in the UK have also reported on the work.