Scientists Engineer Artificial Bone Tissue

Researchers have developed an artificial bone marrow niche, in which hematopoietic and progenitor cells are able to multiply and remain functional for several days, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists from the University of Basel, University Hospital Basel, and ETH Zurich were able to reproduce natural bone marrow in the laboratory by combining human mesenchymal stromal cells with a porous, bone-like 3-dimensional scaffold made of a ceramic material. They then used a perfusion bioreactor to combine the biologic and synthetic materials.

This process created a structure covered with a stromal extracellular matrix with embedded blood cells that mimicked the molecular structure of natural bone marrow niches.

The artificial tissue will help researchers to better understand the mechanisms of blood formation and to develop new therapies for hematologic malignancies and other conditions. “We could use bone and bone marrow cells from patients to create an in vitro model of blood diseases such as leukemia, for example,” study investigators Ivan Martin, PhD, and Timm Schroeder, PhD, explained in a press release. “Importantly, we could do this in an environment that consists exclusively of human cells and which incorporates conditions tailored to the specific individual.”

Sources: University of Basel press release, June 4, 2018; Bourgine PE, Klein T, Paczulla AM, et al. In vitro biomimetic engineering of a human hematopoietic niche with functional properties. Proc Nat Acad Sci. 2018 June 4. [Epub ahead of print]