Personalized bone substitutes created from skin cells

Researchers at the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute used skin cells to develop patient-specific bone substitutes for use in the repair of large bone defects, according to a news release.

The researchers used a technique called reprogramming to revert adult cells into an embryonic-like state. The cells, called pluripotent cells (iPS), carry the same genetic information as the patient and can become any of the body’s cell types.

The researchers guided these iPS cells to become bone-forming progenitors and attached the cells to a scaffold for three-dimensional bone formation. The scaffold was then placed into a bioreactor, which provides nutrients, removes waste and stimulates maturation, and mimics a natural developmental environment.

A major concern for iPS-based cell therapies is the formation of teratoma tumors. To assess this risk, the researchers implanted the iPS cell-derived bone substitutes under the skin of immunocompromised mice. After 12 weeks, the implants showed complete maturation of bone tissue, blood vessel cells began to integrate among the grafts and there were no malignancies.

“Following from these findings, we will be able to create tailored bone grafts, on demand, for patients without any immune rejection issues,” Susan L. Solomon, the chief executive officer of NYSCF, stated in the release.

The researchers noted that although their results are promising, more research is needed before skin cell-derived bone grafts can be used in human patients.

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