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UC San Diego Engineers Build Working Bone Transplants For Mice

A bone transplant developed by researchers at UC San Diego is seen in this un...

Credit: Varghese Lab at UC San Diego

Above: A bone transplant developed by researchers at UC San Diego is seen in this undated photo.

For a new study, scientists at UC San Diego have created bioengineered bone tissue that acts similar to real bone when transplanted into mice.

For a new study, scientists at UC San Diego have created bioengineered bone tissue that acts similar to real bone when transplanted into mice.

The researchers used calcium phosphate minerals to build a scaffolding for the outer layer of bone, which was able to support stem cells that formed bone-like tissue.

Within the bone, stem cells from a donor mouse were able to turn into working marrow when transplanted into a host mouse.

"We transplanted this engineered bone tissue into mice, and we looked at the function," said UC San Diego bioengineering professor Shyni Varghese, who led the study published Monday in the journal PNAS.

"It functioned very much like our own tissue," she said.

A month after the transplant, the scientists found that the bone marrow contained a mix of cells from the host and donor mice.

Varghese says these transplants need further development before being used in human experiments, but the hope is that one day they could treat non-malignant bone marrow diseases in humans.

Scientists not involved in the study had mixed reactions to the research. Dietmar Hutmacher of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia told KPBS via email that other scientists have already developed similar transplants.

University of Iowa professor Aliasger Salem wrote in an email to KPBS that the work was "really interesting and important" and could lead to useful bone marrow research tools.

As for creating suitable bone transplants, he wrote, "The ability to produce functional materials with long-term viable cells embedded in the material is going to be challenging in terms of development, scale-up, manufacturing and use."

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