Biotech Company Claims World First As Lab-Grown Bone Graft Is Implanted Into Patient

Bones are complex, and require multiple cell types to heal. Has this company really turned science fiction into fact? David Brimm/Shutterstock

A biomedical company based in Israel has claimed that, for the first time, a patient has been able to heal their own fractured shinbone after being injected with a bone graft, made from his own cells, and grown outside his body in a laboratory.

The company, Bonus BioGroup, explain what transpired in their press release. At present, the work has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal, but to be fair, if the procedure has just been carried out, it’s early days in that regard.

The patient in question had severely damaged his shinbone, his tibia, in a traffic accident. He initially underwent two operations which attempted to mend it using metal rods, but he was left with a gap that no conventional form of surgery could effectively fix.

He then had a choice of going through an experimental bone-healing procedure, or instead opting for an artificial bone fragment that would simply sit in the void. Left to his own devices, medical experts at hand determined that the bone wouldn’t heal on its own.

Bones, after all, are living things, not just static structural elements of our biology. Compact bone is the dense material that makes up 80 percent of your skeleton; the rest is made of porous spongy bone. Within your bones, you can find living bone cells named osteocytes, as well as blood vessels, nerve cells, and plenty of calcium and phosphorous compounds that act as a framework.

Bones usually attempt to heal themselves, but in some cases, this fails to transpire. Bonus BioGroup have claimed that they’ve found a way to solve this problem using the patient’s own cells.

In this case, the company took fat tissue from the patient and cultured it in a laboratory. Although detail at this point remains elusive – and we’ve reached out to the company for comment – it’s likely that stem cells, which can then be induced to differentiate into several types of new cell, are extracted from these fatty tissues.

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