Israeli company successfully transplanted lab-grown bones into humans
01/02/2017 // JD Heyes // Views

Tens of millions of people break bones every year, and many of those who do wind up with life-changing, chronic injuries. What would it be like if an injured person could simply replace a bone that, say, had been crushed and was largely irreparable?

Well, we may be on the cusp of that technology, thanks to an Israeli firm that has developed a way to grow bones in the lab that can be transplanted into a human.

As reported by Reuters, the biotech firm, Bonus Biogroup, may soon offer lab-grown, semi-liquid bone grafts after research and testing -- including injecting the material into the jaws of 11 people to repair bone loss in an early stage clinical trial.

The materials were grown in a lab using each patient’s own fat cells, then were injected into voids of problematic bones, thus filling them. Over the course of the next few months, the substance hardened and then merged with existing bone to complete the jaw, the company said.

The announcement was made in recent days in the form of a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Further, the biotech company will be presenting its results at the International Conference on Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Spain, Reuters reported.

Bonus Biogroup said it has raised $14 million in funding, adding that the company plans to dual list on Nasdaq early in 2017.

‘Next we’re going to try it with long bones'

“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,” Shai Meretzki, the company’s CEO, said.


Meretzki founded Pluristem Therapeutics in the past, a company that works with stem cells and has transformed into one of Israel’s most advanced biomedical companies.

In an interview with Reuters, Ora Burger, vice president of regulation affairs at Bonus Biogroup, said all 11 clinical trial injections into patients were successful.

“Now we’re going to conduct a clinical study in the extremities, long bones,” she said.

Israel21c reported in 2013 that the company’s 750-square meter facility at Haifa’s Matam High Tech Park is to have a trio of divisions: A production center where human bone grafts will be grown, so as to supply the company with clinical trial materials; a Research & Development center to expand uses for human bone grafts for transplants; and a headquarters where R&D activities in the United States will be tracked and supervised.

In 2015, as the firm’s trials began and as the initial positive results were streaming in, Natural Height Growth reported that prior to Bonus Biogroup, there had been perhaps a dozen similar firms that had been working on, and were successful in, getting functional bone tissue transplantation to take. But what made the Israel effort interesting is that Bonus Biogroup was using 3D printers to build the base material, and also planned to attempt to build cartilage-bone combination tissues in the future.

Could this procedure restore normalcy to ‘little people’?

“This is a better solution for the body than plastic or metal pieces” to replace bone matter, Meretzki said. The lab-grown substances are “active live bones that can grow, remodel and change as your body does.”

That means even in young children, when bone grafts are inserted surgically, they will adjust and grow like normal bones would have done.

Theoretically, anyway, which happens to be the next phase of testing and research: Getting the injected bone material to grow in legs and arms that have been damaged by trauma or naturally stunted at birth.

There is even some talk about using the material in men and women whose bodies never grew normally, what some people used to call a “dwarf” or “midget,” but who are now referred to simply as “little people.” If this procedure can be perfected, not only can it repair badly damaged bones, but it could also restore these little people to more typical heights, say some experts.


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