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How do scientists go about growing bone cartilage? And how soon will people be able to use this bone?
Question Date: 2003-05-20
Answer 1:

Growing cartilage is typically used for reconstructing damaged or deformed noses and ears.

There are a couple of ways that this can be done. Chondrocytes (cartilage producing cells) can be grown in culture on biodegradable porous scaffolds. Once the cartilaginous matrix has been formed, the scaffold slowly degrades, leaving a mass of cartilaginous tissue with a similar morphology to that of the scaffold on which it was grown. One interesting twist on this method, is that after initial chondrocyte seeding, the scaffold can be implanted in either the person at an alternative place to that which the implant will be eventually inserted or beneath the skin of a donor species, frequently a naked mouse.

This implantation method results in the vascularization of this material and depending on the circumstances involved, can increase the rate of surgical success. Ears and noses can be grown in this manner and although these techniques are not that widespread, they are becoming more common.

In a second method, small strips of cartilage from another region of the body are removed and shaped into the desired form, these can then be transplanted into the specific region of interest. In these cases, rib cartilage is frequently used to construct new ears.

Answer 2:

Many human tissues can be successfully grown by tissue culture techniques. This involves growing specific cells or tissues in a defined nourishing medium. Cartilage can be grown in such a medium supplied with chondrocytes - cells that make the molecules that comprise collagen.

Answer 3:

Cartilage is a matrix of fibers of a protein called collagen filled up with a gelatinous substance called chondroitin sulfate. When the gelatinous substance is removed, it naturally becomes filled in the body by the mineral hydroxy-apatite (calcium phosphate).

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