Artificial Bone Marrow CreatedCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: January 14, 2014 08:02AM
Our bones play a larger role in our bodies than simply creating a rigid structure as they also hold other cells and tissues, such as bone marrow. Within sponge-like bone marrow are special niches where hematopoietic stem cells reside and produce necessary immune cells. These stem cells can only exist in those niches as they change their properties when moved to a new environment. However, researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, and Tübingen University have successfully created artificial bone marrow.
Diseases such as leukemia cause the body to incorrectly produce immune cells, which obviously puts the body at risk. A bone marrow transplant can treat the disease, but it is very hard to find matches for all of the patients out there, which is why artificial bone marrow could be invaluable. To create their artificial bone marrow, the researchers used synthetic polymers to form a properly porous structure and added protein building blocks to it. These blocks are important as they replicate those found in natural bone marrow, which the stem cells attach to. Additional cell types were also added to the niche, to mimic the natural environment as much as possible.
With artificial bone marrow, it may be possible for researchers to better study and understand how stem cells interact with different materials. Potentially ten to fifteen years from now that research could lead to treatments for leukemia, and other diseases.