Research highlight

Cell source matters for in vitro bone growth

Nature Materials

July 27, 2009

The type of cell used to grow bone for tissue replacement in the lab makes a difference to the properties of the resulting material, researchers report online this week in Nature Materials. The finding highlights for the first time the need to also consider the source of cells when creating replacement tissues.

Laboratory-grown, implantable, cell-seeded materials that can be used to restore function are a major aim of regenerative medicine. Molly Stevens and colleagues show that the source of cells used to create those constructs needs to be carefully and systematically chosen to ensure therapeutic benefit.

The researchers grow bone from osteoblasts, adult stem cells, or embryonic stem cells, and show that the bone nodules that form from both osteoblasts and adult stem cells are consistent with native bone in terms of mineral composition, nanoscale architecture and gene expression. However, the bone grown from embryonic stem cells is more similar to mechanically compromised aged native bone than to healthy tissue.

doi: 10.1038/nmat2505

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