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Scientists Develop Synthetic Bone Implant for Safer Marrow Transplants

May 09, 2017 08:44 AM EDT
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Scientists developed synthetic bone tissue that could revolutionize bone marrow transplants that traditionally produce a lot of negative side effects, according to a report from Medical Xpress.

Patients in need of bone marrow transplants are typically subjected to radiation treatment to clear space in the marrow by killing the stem cells that can compete with donor cells. Side effects from this treatment can be a problem for patients though such as nausea, fatigue and infertility, among others.

In response to these problems, bioengineers from the University of California San Diego created a bone-like implant that offers donor cells their own space to live and grow. With their own space, there's no need to kill the existing stem cells in the marrow.

The newly developed bone implant had functional bone marrow that can contain donor cells and placed under the skin of mice. The team revealed that the donor cells were able to live for six months while supplying new blood cells for the mice.

"It's an additional accessory for the host," team leader Shyni Varghese explained to New Scientist. "They have their own bone tissue and now an additional one that can be used if needed. It's like having more batteries for the bone."

With their experiments on mice, the researchers discovered that the implanted marrow is functional, donor cells can grow for long periods of time even in the presence of host cells, and that host and donor cells can travel between the implant and the circulating blood through the blood vessel network produced in the implant tissue.

There are limitations to this innovation as the bone implants can only be applied to patients with non-malignant bone marrow diseases without cancerous cells that has to be killed off.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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