Editors' ChoiceTissue Engineering

Rebuilding Broken Bones

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Science Translational Medicine  21 Oct 2009:
Vol. 1, Issue 3, pp. 3ec12
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3000509

Bone reconstruction is used to treat bone damage or malformation caused by trauma, cancer surgery, or birth defects. Often, this procedure requires the harvesting of bone from a nonessential bone of the patient, but such autologous tissue grafting has limitations. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) condyle—a round projection from the lower jaw bone that forms part of the the jaw joint—is a subject of interest for tissue engineering approaches, as its complex shape is not reconstructed easily by current techniques. Furthermore, TMJ disorders are widespread, and tissue engineering is seen as a possible route for curing them. Previous condyle engineering studies used predifferentiated mesenchymal stem cells suspended in a hydrogel, but implantation of these structures in mice was required to maintain cell viability. Now, Grayson et al. describe an approach for creating a condyle in vitro, a critical step toward making constructs useful in regenerative medicine. These researchers used digitized clinical scans to reconstruct the exact three-dimensional geometry of a human TMJ condyle and then made correctly shaped scaffolds from decellularized bone. The scaffolds were seeded with human mesenchymal stem cells, which were allowed to attach and deposit extracellular matrix. The seeded scaffolds were then placed in an appropriately shaped bioreactor that forced culture medium to flow through the scaffold, an important factor in bone formation. After five weeks, viable cells at physiological density were present throughout the scaffold and the mineralized bone matrix had increased in volume. Such an approach may be useful for a variety of bone reconstructions that could be customized for each patient.

W. L. Grayson et al., Engineering anatomically shaped human bone grafts. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 9 October 2009 (doi:10.1073/pnas.0905439106). [Abstract] [Full Text (PDF)]]

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