An Israeli start-up biotech company announced Monday that it has successfully used lab-grown bone tissue to repair bone loss, in the world’s first procedure of its kind.
The start-up, Bonus BioGroup, said it injected the semi-liquid bone graft, which was harvested from patients’ own fat cells, into the jaws of 11 patients. The substance successfully hardened and merged with existing bone to repair damage during the early stage of clinical trials.
“For the first time worldwide, reconstruction of deficient or damaged bone tissue is achievable by growing viable human bone graft in a laboratory, and transplanting it back to the patient in a minimally invasive surgery via injection,” Bonus Biogroup CEO Shai Meretzki said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
When bone is injured in a trauma accident or degenerates with age, reconstruction or transplant is the only option for repair, Meretzki told i24news.
Meretzki told the news channel that traditional methods of repairing bone damage involve obtaining bone samples from the pelvic crest – an invasive, painful, and expensive procedure. Other methods include using synthetic substances or obtaining cells from bone banks, taking the risk that the patient’s body will reject the transplant.
“I was looking for a way to do it cheaper and easier for the patient and the medical system,” Meretzki told i24news. “The idea of bone grafts is that they should be bio-compatible, functionally and structurally similar to the patient’s bone, easily transplantable, and cost-effective,” he added.
Meretzki and his team have spent some 50 million dollars over the past 6 to 7 years, he said, working towards developing in-vitro tissues and turning them into viable bone grafts, the news channel reported.
In addition, Meretzki estimates that the procedure, if and when it is adopted by hospitals, will cost less than the current bone regrowth treatment, which can cost up to $90,000.
The new developments are being spearheaded by Meretzki, along with Prof. Ephraim Tzur, scientific adviser of Bonus Biogroup, and Prof. Nimrod Rozen, head of the orthopedic ward of Haemek Hospital.