Growing Bones from Stem Cells
A biotech company hoping to change medicine
Biotech companies are becoming more popular every day. The used-to-be-ignored, once bad investment is now something that many investors think is necessary in a successful portfolio.
Biotech is a wide and varied field, with many companies doing experiments and finding medical advances that look more and more like the medicine in Star Trek.
One of these fields is stem cells. Stem cells are cells collected from bone marrow, embryos, or umbilical cord blood, that can be made to change into any other kind of cell: brain, blood, skin. They are often used to replace dead or diseased tissues.
The field of stem cells is advancing quickly. Biotech companies are working on using stem cells to help cure cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. These scientists are using stem cells to move medicine forward, working on simple, but pervasive medical problems like back pain, and using the science for more miracle-like treatments, like helping paralyzed stroke patients walk again, or the one biotech company that's trying to use stem cells to bring brain-dead patients back to life.
Creating Bones from Nothing
Scientists at the biotech company Epibone, are trying to use stem cells to grow human bone. Currently, people that need reconstruction surgery have to have bone taken from a different part of the body and then grafted into the place they're trying to reconstruct. The problem with this procedure is that there really isn't a bone in the human body that isn't necessary, so removing bone from one place and adding it to another still causes problems. After blood, bone is the most transplanted material in the U.S.
Epibone though, think that they have a solution. They believe they can grow human bones from stem cells that are taken from fat tissue. The process after is simple. The scientists take the stem cells from the fat tissue, and along with a CT scan, use it to mold the cells in the correct shape. After about three weeks, the cells mature into a bone ready for implantation. In fact, this has already been done successfully. A team at Johns Hopkins University has already grown a human jawbone using stem cells derived from fat tissue.
Currently, the team at Epibone has had successful experiments on animals, but they're still about 18 months from human trials. They hope to be have the technology readily available by 2023.
To continue reading about this new advancement, click here.
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