In an article in PLoS Medicine, Gert Meijer (University Medical Centre Utrecht, The Netherlands) and colleagues discuss what kind of progress there has been in restoring the function of diseased or damaged bone by bone tissue regeneration.
Until recently, say the authors, the use of bone grafts from a different part of the patients own body has been the number one choice for attempting to restore function. But there are major problems with such graftsfor example, removing bone from a different part of the body can lead to post-operative pain, infection, and abnormal sensations at the removal site. An alternative is to use bone given by a donorbut such bone grafts from donors are less successful and there is a risk of transmitting viruses from the donor to the recipient.
Given all these problems with bone grafts, scientists have attempted to engineer bone tissue. Bone tissue engineering using bone marrow stem cells has been suggested as a promising technique for reconstructing bone defects, say Meijer and colleagues. Bone tissue engineering has shown success in animal studies.
In their article the authors review the available data on bone tissue engineering in human studies, including clinical research they themselves have conducted. They also discuss possible new directions that need to be exploited to make bone tissue engineering a clinical success.