Recent advances in stem cell research and tissue engineering have proven the feasibility of producing actual human facial and cranial bone that can be properly tailored for the size and structure of the victim's head and face.
Giuseppe Maria de Peppo, PhD (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
in the NYSCF Laboratory
The traumatic head and facial injuries that result from automotive accidents, domestic violence, and service in combat not only leave their victims with life-threatening skull damage, but also disfigure them, rendering them socially and psychologically scarred. The full cost of these injuries (which are currently impossible to repair) extends beyond the burden of medical expenses to the patients' inability to work and be normally integrated into society.
At NYSCF, we are working to produce personalized bone grafts that will be used to treat and repair the structural and cosmetic damage that interferes with the health, livelihood and social integration of these individuals. NYSCF Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Giuseppe de Peppo is engineering vascularized bone from human pluripotent stem cells to study their potential in treatment and regeneration of large bone injuries, with the focus on the reconstruction and treatment of craniofacial injuries.
Dr. de Peppo has published work aimed at optimizing the culture environment needed to generate bone grafts and will be applying these conditions to bone tissue generated using multiple kinds of stem cells including iPS cells. These bone grafts will provide models to study bone development and disease and to develop therapeutics for bone regeneration.
Recent Bone and Tissue Engineering Research:
“Engineering anatomically shaped human bone grafts”
Scientists have determined that adult stem cells can be used to give rise to bone, cartilage, and vascular cells, potentially overcoming past hurdles to provide patient-specific bone grafts for craniofacial and orthopedic reconstructions. In this process, human mesenchymal stem cells are developed and then seeded into three-dimensional scaffolds made from naturally occurring biomaterials to form viable bone grafts of complex geometries. The ability to engineer anatomically correct, viable, and functional human bone would have tremendous potential for bone reconstruction.
“Conversion of Vascular Endothelial Cells into Multipotent Stem-Like Cells”
A study has shown that vascular endothelial cells can be induced to transform into multipotent stem-like cells. These stem-like cells could be triggered to differentiate into osteoblasts, chondrocytes, or adipocytes, suggesting a potential new approach to tissue engineering.
“Mesenchymal and haematopoietic stem cells form a unique bone marrow niche”
Scientists demonstrate that mesenchymal stem cells constitute an essential component of haematopoietic stem cells. MSCs contain the activity of a bone-marrow colony-forming unit and can be propagated as cells that self-renew and expand in serial transplantations. These results uncover a new partnership between two somatic stem-cell types and are indicative of a unique niche in the bone marrow made of heterotypic stem-cell pairs.
“Directed Differentiation of human embryonic stem cells toward chondrocytes”
Researchers report an efficient, scalable, and reproducible protocol for differentiation of human embryonic stem cells toward chondrocytes. The final cell aggregates show very low or no expression of genes and proteins associated with nontarget cell types. This protocol should facilitate studies of chondrocyte differentiation and cell replacement therapies for cartilage repair.
“Recapitulation of endochondral bone formation using human adult mesenchymal stem cells as a paradigm for developmental engineering”
Mesenchymal stem cells are typically used to generate bone tissue by direct osteoblastic differentiation; however, most real bones develop by endochondrial ossification. This study reveals the capacity of human MSC to generate bone tissue via an endochondral process and provides a valid model to study mechanisms governing bone development. Perhaps most importantly, this process could also generate advanced grafts for bone regeneration by invoking a “developmental engineering” paradigm.
“Engineered vascularized bone grafts”
Scientists use a mouse model to develop a two-stage protocol for generating vascularized bone grafts using mesenchymal stem cells from human bone marrow and umbilical cord derived endothelial cells. This protocol prevents cell death at the core of the graft by generating an extensive vascular network that would perfuse the entire 3D porous scaffold, potentially yielding significantly higher quality grafts.