Researchers Build Bone From Cartilage

Researchers from San Francisco have found a way to regenerate bone through cartilage grafts, according to a study presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society Annual Meeting.

“Cartilage graft induces bone that actually integrates with the host bone and vascularizes it,” study author Ralph S. Marcucio, PhD, stated in an Orthopaedic Research Society news release.

For the study, the release noted, the researchers chose a non-stabilized tibial fracture callus as a cartilage graft source. “We’re just taking a very similar cartilage that can induce bone formation, putting it into a bone defect and letting it just do its thing,” Marcucio stated.

According to the release, the cartilage grafts work through endochondral ossification, producing new tissue researchers say is similar to the patient’s own bone. Without additional properties, the researchers found the graft integrated well and was fully vascularized.

“The cartilage is naturally bioactive,” study author Chelsea S. Bahney, PhD, stated in the release. “It makes factors that help induce vascularization and bone formation. When people use a bone graft, it is often dead bone which requires something exogenous to be added to it or some property of the matrix in the graft.

“It is not the pathway that most people think about, but it made a lot more sense to follow the normal developmental mechanism,” she stated.

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