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Bone cell soup for tissue regeneration

Bone degeneration diseases such as osteoporosis are a burgeoning health issue worldwide. An EU project has investigated the therapeutic potential of applying cell culture for bone repair and healing.
Bone cell soup for tissue regeneration
Current treatments for osteoporosis are based on inhibition of bone resorption and have unpleasant side-effects such as osteonecrosis of the jaw. Surgical procedures include autografts and calcium phosphate fillers that have limitations due to lack of biological properties.

The EOBOTE (Study of endothelial and osteoclastic cells cooperation for bone tissue engineering applications) project has focused on tissue engineering for the bone remodelling necessary when the material is compromised.

Recent studies have highlighted the importance of vascularisation and cell-cell communication for efficient tissue engineering strategies. The project team looked at osteoclasts (OCs), bone resorbing cells, and blood vessels or endothelial cells (ECs). Using a newly developed cell culture protocol to set up a co-culture medium, the researchers looked at the interactions between OCs and ECs.

Research results showed that 'elderly' ECs significantly inhibited the action of OCs, while the 'young' endothelial cells had relatively little effect on bone resorbing cells. This indicates that factors regulating cell interactions vary with cell age.

Building on these results, the researchers added osteoblastic cells, bone producers. The results of this 'mix' are promising and show that successful co-culture of the three main cellular players in bone production is possible; their time-dependent behaviour is now under analysis.

For the future, the researchers intend to add osteocytes to the model as they are the mature osteoblasts surrounded by the bone matrix they secrete. Furthermore, they are the most abundant type of cell in mature bone tissue.

Dissemination has been wide-ranging and included five conferences and publications in the high-profile journals PLOS ONE and Biology Open. EOBOTE project research has unravelled crucial details on bone cell interactions during the process of tissue regeneration. Direct applications of course include the development of new treatments for osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Wider uses can be envisaged in the world of molecular communications mechanisms between cells generally.

Related information


Bone, regeneration, osteoporosis, EOBOTE, tissue engineering, osteoclasts, endothelial cells
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