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June 13, 2012 11:30 am

Israeli Researchers Finally Find Good Use For Your Extra Fat

avatar by Atara Arbesfeld

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The Computer Science Faculty building at the Technion Institute for Science in Haifa, Israel. Photo: wiki commons.

According to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, Israeli researchers have made a medical breakthrough in their ability to develop human bone cells through fat cells. Professor Avinoam Kadouri, a leading scientist in industrial biotechnology and head of the scientific advisory board for Bonus BioGroup, predicts that this new discovery will be great news for those suffering with bone fracture injuries and are in need for artificial bones. These new findings may enhance the abilities of physicians and surgeons to replace bones damaged in accidents, fill in cleft palates and other bone defects, and carry out reconstructive plastic surgery.

This development might also improve the latest technologies in human bone repair and could help replace damaged bones with entirely new bones created outside the human body, made from one’s own stem cells. After the most recent round of success, the first trial of stem cell bone-development on human patients will be conducted by an Israeli biotechnology company later this year.

Mesenchymal stem cells were used because they have the capability to develop into many other types of cells in the body. They were obtained from fat using liposuction and then grew into a living bone on the scaffold inside a “bioreactor,” an automated machine that fosters the ideal conditions and environment for mesenchymal stem cells to develop into bone.

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The scientists at the Technion Institute for Research waited for nearly a month for these cells to develop into fully-structured live human bone that grew up to two inches in length. They implemented 3D scans of damaged bone to construct a gel-like scaffold formed into the shape of a bone.

“We use three dimensional structures to fabricate the bone in the right shape and geometry,” explained Professor Kadouri about the bone-developing process. “We can grow these bones outside the body and then transplant it to the patient at the right time. By scanning the damaged bone area, the implant should fit perfectly and merge with the surrounding tissue. There are no problems with rejection as the cells come from the patient’s own body.”

Before testing on humans, these artificial bones have been successfully inserted into animals. Scientists at Technion were able to place nearly an inch of a human bone created in the laboratory in the middle section of a rat’s leg bone and fused together with the remainder of the animal’s bone.

Dr. Shai Meretzki, chief executive of Bonus BioGroup, added that they are anticipating this recent development in medical technology to also provide replacements for damaged joints such as hips. “It is the same type of technology, but the equipment would be different for bigger bones,” explained Dr. Meretzki.

Prof. Kadouri also says that the group is in the middle of a project creating the growth of soft cartilage at bone endings, a crucial component for artificial bones being made in laboratories. As of now bone grafts consist of taking pieces of bone from elsewhere in the patient’s body and relocating them to damaged area for the healing process. Using bone from patient’s own body reduces the chances of the new developing bone being rejected than if it had been a bone from an entirely different body.

While research teams from universities and hospitals around the world are developing techniques for growing human bone using stem cells, most have used a different type of stem cells and injected them into the patient rather than growing them into bones outside the body for transplanting them inwards later on.

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