new bone

Metal pins securing a bone fracture
Wikimedia Commons

Having extra body fat isn’t always an advantage to your health, but Israeli researchers at Bonus BioGroup have found  one exceedingly good use for it. In their lab in Haifa, they developed a technology that can use a person’s fat to build living bone tissue. With this ingenious discovery, surgeons use live tissue from your own body to build bone material that can be used for transplants. The company just announced that it has received approval for the first transplant of an vitro-developed bone tissue into a human. That procedure will be carried out in the next few days.

Building a 3D Model

Scientists from Bonus BioGroup begin with a sample of fat tissue taken from the patient. In addition, they receive a CT scan of the injured bone. They build a biodegradable scaffold to support and grow live new bone material that fits the damaged bone. After about 30 days, the bone material is ready for transplant into the patient.

Adapting to a New Environment

Broken bones can be traumatic at any age, but fractures are more frequent in the elderly. Any sort of break can result in a serious decline in an elderly person’s health, especially when it results in complicated surgeries and long recoveries. In the past, doctors have tried to repair damaged bones with grafts from other bones, casts, or parts made from synthetic materials such as plastic or metal. Those procedures are not 100% successful, as the body does not always accept foreign materials. The cool thing about growing new bone from fat is that it is from the same person’s body. It has the same DNA as the patient, so there is little chance of the body’s immune system rejecting the transplant. According to Bonus BioGroup CEO, Shai Meretzki, once the active bone is transplanted, it adjusts to its new environment and changes with the body, even in growing children.