First Organic Bones will greatly increase the understanding of bone formation and bone diseases
Imagine using stem cells from bone marrow to grow a piece of bone tissue in a lab, and then doctors explore which drugs have the desired effect on your bones. In this way, a tailored treatment plan will be drawn up for everyone, clarifying the best approach in advance. Personalized medicine at its finest.
This vision of the future is no longer science fiction now that researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology and Radboud University Medical Center have realized the first part: growing a piece of vibrant bone tissue from human stem cells. Today researchers reported in the journal that this is the first organoid bone, a simplified version of the original Advanced functional materials.
“With this we present, for the first time, the complete picture of early stage bone formation,” says Sandra Hoffmann, associate professor of orthopedic bioengineering from TU / e. And this is of great importance: How our bones are formed is still very much a mystery. Bone is a very complex material in which on the one hand countless cells and processes interact, and on the other hand, an ingenious matrix of collagen and minerals is built to provide strength. Much is known about the individual components, but a coherent picture has been missing so far.
Three types of cells play a major role in bone formation: osteoblasts (which build bone tissue), osteoclasts (which take bone away) and osteocytes (which regulate the building and breaking of bone). “Most of the studies so far have focused on one of these cell types, but this is not a good representation of real tissue,” says Hoffman. Here we present a piece of woven bone (early-stage bone) that was developed from stem cells and contains two types of these cells: osteoblasts and osteocytes. We now see that we can make vibrant bones exclusively with these two types of cells. “
Get greater wisdom from molecular twitching
“And perhaps most importantly, our system behaves just like an early stage bone,” says Anat Akiva, associate professor of cell biology at Radboudumc. “We have shown that both types of cells produce the proteins they need for their functions, and we have shown in most detail that the matrix is actually the bone matrix that we see in real tissues.”
According to the researchers, the fact that a simplified representation of bone formation at the molecular level is now possible offers unprecedented possibilities. “Bone is made up of 99% of collagen and minerals, but there is also another 1% of proteins that are necessary for successful bone formation,” explains Professor Nico Somerdick of Radbodomc. “So what is the role of these proteins? How do they support bone formation? Before we could not look at the parameters of this process at the molecular level.”
In doing so, they immediately have a good entrance to investigate the cause of hereditary bone diseases such as “osteoporosis” and their possible treatments. “Remember that the origin of many diseases is at the molecular level – and so is the treatment,” Akiva says. “In fact, we now have a simple system in a reliable environment in which we can walk around and see how osteocytes react to the stimuli that we provide.”
Barry in De Mer
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