Scientists have discovered a way to transform skin cells into bone substitutes, which could potentially be used to repair larger bone defects, Nature World News reported.
This advance is seen as a step toward being able to create customizable, three-dimensional bone grafts that match the specific needs and immune profiles of each patient, Nature World News reported.
A team of scientists from the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute used skin cells that had been reverted from adult-cells back into an embryonic state, creating induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. These iPS cells contain all of a patients’ genetic information and are capable of becoming any of the body’s cell types.
Researchers used the iPS cells to create bone-forming cells, which they placed into a scaffolding, helping them to form into 3-D bones. The cells were placed in a bioreactor, which provided them with nutrients, removed waste and stimulated maturation.
“No other research group has published work on creating fully-viable, functional, three-dimensional bone substitutes from human iPS cells,” said team member Giuseppe Maria de Peppo. “These results bring us closer to achieving our ultimate goal, to develop the most promising treatments for patients.”
In the future, scientists hope to be able to successfully grow blood vessels within the bone, Nature World News said.