Researchers engineer human bone marrow tissue

June 5, 2018, University of Basel
Scanning electron microscopy images confirm the deposition of an extracellular matrix which embeds cells, presumably of both stromal and blood origins. Credit: University of Basel

Researchers have developed an artificial tissue in which human blood stem cells remain functional for a prolonged period of time. Scientists from the University of Basel, University Hospital Basel, and ETH Zurich have reported their findings in the scientific journal PNAS.

In the , several billion blood cells are formed each day. This constant supply is ensured by located in special niches within the marrow. These stem cells can multiply and mature into red and , which then leave the marrow and enter the bloodstream. For several years, researchers have been trying to reproduce natural bone marrow in the laboratory in order to better understand the mechanisms of blood formation and to develop new therapies, such as the treatment of leukemia.

However, this has proven to be extremely difficult because in conventional in vitro models, the blood stem cells lose their ability to multiply and to differentiate into different types of blood cells.

Now, researchers have engineered an artificial bone marrow niche in which the stem and progenitor cells are able to multiply for a period of several days. These findings were reported by researchers working under Professor Ivan Martin from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel and Professor Timm Schroeder from ETH Zurich's Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering.

The researchers have developed an artificial tissue that mimics some of the complex biological properties of natural bone marrow niches. To do this, they combined human mesenchymal stromal cells with a porous, bone-like 3-D scaffold made of a ceramic material in what is known as a perfusion bioreactor, which was used to combine biological and synthetic materials.

This gave rise to a structure covered with a stromal extracellular matrix embedding . In this respect, the artificial tissue had a very similar molecular structure to natural bone marrow niches, creating an environment in which the functionality of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells could be maintained.

The new technique could also be used to produce tailor-made bone marrow niches that have specific molecular properties and that allow the selective incorporation or removal of individual proteins. This opens up a whole host of possibilities, including researching factors that influence blood formation in humans, and drug screening with a view to predicting how individual patients will respond to a certain treatment.

"We could use bone and from patients to create an in vitro model of blood diseases such as leukemia, for example. Importantly, we could do this in an environment that consists exclusively of human and which incorporates conditions tailored to the specific individual," the authors write.

Explore further: Researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

More information: Paul E. Bourgine et al, In vitro biomimetic engineering of a human hematopoietic niche with functional properties, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1805440115

Related Stories

Researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

April 17, 2018
Researchers have produced stable joint cartilage from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This was made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers ...

How bone marrow niches keep stem cells thriving

April 19, 2018
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are a class of stem cells located in bone marrow. HSCs give rise to every type of blood cell—from the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the white blood cells of the immune system. Bone ...

Some blood stem cells are better than others

May 30, 2018
In your body, blood stem cells produce approximately 10 billion new white blood cells, which are also known as immune cells, each and every day. Even more remarkably, if some of these blood stem cells fail to do their part, ...

KIT researchers develop artificial bone marrow

January 10, 2014
Artificial bone marrow may be used to reproduce hematopoietic stem cells. A prototype has now been developed by scientists of KIT, the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart, and Tübingen University. The ...

Engineered bone marrow could make transplants safer

May 8, 2017
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed biomimetic bone tissues that could one day provide new bone marrow for patients needing transplants.

Blood stem cells study could pave the way for new cancer therapy

March 10, 2016
People with leukaemia could be helped by new research that sheds light on how the body produces its blood supply.

Recommended for you

Japanese team creates human oogonia using human stem cells in artificial mouse ovaries

September 21, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in Japan has successfully generated human oogonia inside of artificial mouse ovaries using human stem cells. In their paper published in the journal Science, the ...

A new approach to developing a vaccine against vivax malaria

September 21, 2018
A novel study reports an innovative approach for developing a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent human malaria parasite outside sub-Saharan Africa. The study led by Hernando A. del Portillo and Carmen Fernandez-Becerra, ...

Researchers explore how changes in diet alter microbiome in artificial intestine

September 21, 2018
Using an artificial intestine they created, researchers have shown that the microbiome can quickly adapt from the bacterial equivalent of a typical western diet to one composed exclusively of dietary fats. That adaptation ...

A Trojan Horse delivery for treating a rare, potentially deadly, blood-clotting disorder

September 21, 2018
In proof-of-concept experiments, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have highlighted a potential therapy for a rare but potentially deadly blood-clotting disorder, TTP. The researchers deliver this therapeutic ...

Study identifies stem cell that gives rise to new bone and cartilage in humans

September 20, 2018
A decade-long effort led by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists has been rewarded with the identification of the human skeletal stem cell.

Scientists grow human esophagus in lab

September 20, 2018
Scientists working to bioengineer the entire human gastrointestinal system in a laboratory now report using pluripotent stem cells to grow human esophageal organoids.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.