In order to unlock the mechanisms of bone cancers and to treat large bone injuries, researchers have been searching to create bone tissue in the lab. A new advancement out of Oregon Health and Science University replicates bone, right down to the precise crystalline structure and natural biological functions. They succeeded in created bone tissue that contains not only bone cells, but blood vessels and nerves.
Here’s how they do it:
1. Scientist create a collagen gel solution and inoculate it with human stem cells
2. They introduce a calcium and phosphate rich solution (the mineral components of bone).
3. Researchers then add Osteopontin, natural body protein that down regulates bone production, to slow down the bone formation process. This allows the crystals to form in a more regular pattern.
4. The stem cells create layers of minerals, forming orderly patterns found in normal bone tissue.
5. Then by adding nerve cells, the new bone tissue also adds a network of nerves within the structure.
By growing bone tissue in the lab, researchers hope to discover how cancers spread to bone tissue. They may even be able to grow bone tissue to replace missing or extremely damaged bone. The same scientists are also creating bone that includes of bone marrow tissue to learn more about how blood cancers develop.