How to grow a bone without a body

Feb 21, 2014 /


Want to watch a bone grow? Watch this video from TED Fellow Nina Tandon and her colleague Sarindr Bhumiratana, at Columbia University’s Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering and partner-in-new-business-crime. Together with a group of fellow bio-engineers, the pair founded the company Epibone, which they describe as “a revolutionary bone reconstruction company that allows patients to ‘grow their own bone.'”

Huh? So what does that really mean? In the video, the pair break down their thinking and their process — which involves taking a decellularized bone scaffolding from an animal, adding fat stem cells taken from a human and leaving the two to cook. It’s more complicated than that, obviously, not to mention early days. So far, testing of the brand new bones (which grow in about three weeks) has only taken place in pigs, so there’s a long way to go before this procedure will make it to human testing. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating insight into a field that might just upend how we think about medical procedures or, more broadly, our own physical selves.