Scientists Grow Real Human Bones

University of Houston scientists, studying the best way to prevent bone fractures, say they have created a process that grows human bones in tissue culture.

The researchers, led by Associate Professor Mark Clarke, said the best way to stop fractures is to stop bones from reaching the point where they might break. But understanding the process of how bones form and mature has been challenging.

Now Clarke and his colleagues say they can use their new process to investigate how bones form and grow.

"We have manufactured a structure that has no synthetic components," Clarke said. "It's all made by the two cell types bones start with inside the body. What you end up with is a piece of material that is identical to newly-formed, human, trabecular bone, including its mineral components, its histology and its growth factor content."

The scientists said the 3-dimensional bone constructs allowed ideal conditions to investigate how bone forms and, more importantly, how bone is lost in environments such as space flight and conditions present in post-menopausal women and spinal cord patients.

The university has licensed the technology to OsteoSphere Inc., a company formed by Clarke, which is looking at ways to commercialize the technology in a clinical setting.

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