Research ArticleTissue Engineering

Tissue-engineered autologous grafts for facial bone reconstruction

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Science Translational Medicine  15 Jun 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 343, pp. 343ra83
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad5904

Saving face

Restoring your reputation after a social gaffe may be challenging, but perhaps welcomed in comparison to saving face through restoration of actual bone structure. A delicate and precise process, facial bone reconstruction currently uses bone grafts from the same patient. Cell- and biomaterial-based approaches could benefit this field by providing personalized grafts for deformities of all shapes and sizes. Bhumiratana and colleagues therefore designed a maxillofacial reconstructive strategy centered on a combination of stem cells, decellularized bone, and a custom-designed perfusion bioreactor. The bone was first shaped to the defect in the ramus-condyle unit of minipigs, which have similar jaw anatomies and weight-bearing properties as humans. Then, stem cells were cultured on the bone for several weeks. To mimic the manufacturing and transport chain that could be involved in reconstructing human facial bones, then authors shipped the bioreactor with the living bone inside the site of surgery. Paired histological and image analysis showed that the implanted scaffold material integrated with host tissue, formed new bone, and was vascularized extensively, but only if cells were present. Growing such anatomically correct, large-scale bone constructs could vastly improve regenerative medicine options for patients with craniofacial bone deformities.