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Artificial tissues can provide bone marrow

Scientists, led by an Indian-origin researcher, have developed artificial bone tissues that could provide new bone marrow for patients needing transplants and make the procedure much safer.

Researchers led by professor Shyni Varghese from the University of California, San Diego in the U.S. developed bone tissues with functional bone marrow that can be filled with donor cells and implanted under the skin of mice.

The donor cells survived for at least six months and supplied the mice with new blood cells. “We have made an accessory bone that can separately accommodate donor cells. This way, we can keep the host cells and bypass irradiation,” Ms. Varghese said. Bone marrow transplants are used to treat patients with bone marrow disease. Before a transplant, a patient is first given doses of radiation, sometimes in combination with drugs, to kill off any existing stem cells in the patient’s bone marrow.

This pre-treatment is meant to improve success of the transplant by clearing up space in the marrow, allowing donor cells to survive and grow without competition from the patient’s own cells.

Removing side-effects

However, this treatment often comes with harmful side effects. To address these issues, researchers developed a bone-like implant that gives donor cells their own space to live and grow without competition, eliminating the need to wipe out the host’s pre-existing cells.

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