KU Leuven fights against bone abnormalities


Scientists have discovered a way to grow bone tissue. This study has paved the way for the necessary technological developments which will help patients suffering from bone abnormalities.

Having observed striking similarities between the healing of human bone and bone production in the foetus, researchers at KULeuven have replicated the development of bone tissue based on the way it grows during the embryonic stage. They extracted stem cells from human bone membrane, before allowing them to accumulate. The aim was to form fragments of bone tissue close to the cartilage.

The scientists then performed an experiment on a mouse with a bone defect. They placed this new tissue in a mould in the form of the missing bone. After more than six weeks, the cartilage became perfectly integrated bone tissue, in the desired shape.

Patients are currently treated using techniques that mobilise existing bone to construct a new one positioned in extension to the leg. It is a long and painful process. This new technique therefore gives these patients hope, as the first clinical trials will be carried out within four years.

The new method also paves the way for other forms of medical applications to develop other tissues such as hearts, livers or kidneys.