Israeli firm grows bones from fat

Jerusalem, April 12 (IANS) An Israeli biotech company has developed a way to turn extra fat into new bones to replace missing or damaged bone structure.

With the new findings, Bonus Biogroup based in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, will help millions of people all over the world suffering from bone diseases such as osteoporosis, bone infection and also accidents that cause irreparable damage to the bones, reported Xinhua.

By making the cells grow in a scaffold after scanning the patient’s bones to determine the shape, these cells then fill a mould and make a completely new bone resembling the lost one.

“By using live adult cells inside the scaffold and mimicking the body’s conditions, the cells fill the cast in a matter of a few months, two or three, so the patient is ready to receive an implant that his body will not reject, because it was taken from his own body,” Bonus Biogroup founder and CEO Shai Meretzki told a press conference Thursday.

The cell extraction procedure is very non-intrusive, unlike bone replacement surgeries today that take a piece of the patients’ bone and work on it to make it look as similar as possible to the bone it will have to replace. This, of course, is a painful and long process that requires months of post-operative care.

“We do a small liposuction on the patient’s stomach and make those cells turn into the new bone by telling each of them how to grow. Many patients encourage us to continue with the liposuction!” Meretzki laughed.

For now, Meretzki and his team only researched on rats, but the trials on human will begin soon, as they expect that their technology will be available for everyone in no more than three years.

The new innovation in tissue growth, which took Meretzki and his team five years to develop, can also be applied in dentistry since many times dental implants cannot take root due to lack of bone structure.

“With this technology, dentists can grow bone tissue in the mouth so that the dental pieces can be easily put in place,” Meretzki said, though admitting that for now, growing organs in a similar way is still far down the line.

“Bone tissue is relatively easy to grow, because its cells are not as complex as the ones on body organs, but I don’t think it’s something impossible, we just need to research more,” he added.

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