Here is an interesting report on how some Finnish scientists were able to replace “a 65-year-old patient’s upper jaw with a bone transplant cultivated from stem cells isolated from his own fatty tissue and grown inside his abdomen.”
Stem cells are cells that are still able to turn into other types of cells. In adults stem cells act as a repair system for the body by replenishing specialized cells – bone, skin, kidney, etc. Because they have this ability they show a lot of promise for medical science.
For instance, in this case the researchers harvested stem cells from the patients fatty tissue and “attached them to a scaffold made out of a calcium phosphate biomaterial and then put it inside the patient’s abdomen to grow for nine months. The cells turned into a variety of tissues and even produced blood vessels.”
This new bone was then be surgically inserted into the patients jaw in order to replace bone which had previously been lost to a tumor.
This is a very promising science which could plausibly be used to one day provide replacement organs for people. I recently read about a team who were able to grow a mouse heart from stem cells on a scaffold which was actually able to beat.
Unfortunately, due to George Bush’s moralistic meddling in science, stem cell research has been held back for the last 8 years in the USA. Luckily it looks like a more sensible president is one the way.