Human bone has been grown naturally in a laboratory for the first time, which could do away with painful grafting operations.
Every year, around two million people have bone graft surgery, often removing part of their hip. The bone is needed for joint replacements, to fix badly broken bones, for spinal fusions and victims of landmines.
Now British scientists hope to spare patients this risky surgery by growing bones using cells taken from their own bone marrow.
Researchers, led by the University of Glasgow, have successfully triggered stem cells to turn into bone using tiny vibrations, providing 1,000 ‘nanokicks’ a second.
Human bone has been grown naturally in a laboratory for the first time, which could do away with painful grafting operations (file photo)
The bone was grown in a petri dish. Human trials are three years away and the bone could be available on the NHS within a decade.
Co-author Dr Peter Childs, from the University of Glasgow, said: ‘Currently patients have to have bone grafts taken from their hip, which is painful, comes with the risk of surgery and can lead to infection.
‘If you can produce an off-the-shelf solution using bone cells, the cells themselves can act as a repair mechanism. This study is a great step towards seeing stem cells used to grow bone and treat patients in the clinic, which is very exciting.’
Bone grafts are often needed in older people following hip and knee replacements to fill in the gap around the medical implant.
In complex fractures, such as those seen in people with osteoporosis, bone is taken from their hip and put into the break to help the shattered sections knit back together.
It is also vital for people who have been blown up by landmines