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Regrowing bones using animals

Researchers at the Columbia University in New York have found a way to use stem cells from pig fat to grow replacement jaw bones and joints.

Jaw defects are currently near impossible to replace, due to the curved nature of the bone, and the need for them to withstand enormous pressure while chewing.

The group extracted some of the pig’s own fat cells with liposuction, molded them around a cow bone scaffold in order to give shape, and then placed the cells in conditions which would allow them to redevelop into bone and cartilage.

After five weeks, the replacement bones were then implanted the into pigs which did not have a jawbone, and within six months the structures had healed completely, forming a functional jaw. 

Meanwhile, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and the EARA member Max Planck Institute of Colloids & Interfaces, Germany have discovered how human and mouse cells grow together in humanised mice models used to study bone cancers.

The team found that mouse and human cells were able to grow alongside each other in these mouse models, resulting in pockets of bone that had the exact same structure as human bone.


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