Researchers use flowing fluids to create mechanical stress needed for bone formation
Tissue engineering researchers in Rices J.W. Cox Laboratory for Biomedical Engineering have developed a new technique that allows bone-forming cells to build a porous, 3-D bony matrix thats structurally similar to natural bone. This photograph from an electron microscope shows a pore that has formed in a 3-D bony matrix. Bone-forming cells are clearly visible lining the walls.
A new study by Rice University researchers indicates that bioengineers growing bone in the laboratory may be able to create the mechanical stimulation needed to grow bone outside the body.
One of the greatest challenges tissue engineers face in growing bone in the laboratory is recreating the conditions that occur inside the body. The recipe for growing healthy bones includes not only a precise biological mix -- bone cells called "osteoblasts" and several growth factors that osteoblasts use to build the mineralized matrix of bones -- but also mechanical stimulation. Astronauts whose bones become brittle after months in orbit are a testament to the importance that mechanical stress plays in bone growth. In orbit, their skeletons arent subject to the everyday stresses of gravity.
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