Scientists can now grow living bone from human stem cells, a process known as bone-tissue engineering. Stem cells are inserted into natural or synthetic scaffolds, where they differentiate into bone cells and form hard bone tissue. But different techniques used to get this process going affect its efficiency, and researchers are still perfecting their methods. This microscopy photo shows a purple-stained cell-scaffold that’s first been filled with a special stem cell-containing solution that encourages those cells to disperse and stick to the scaffold. It’s then cultured in a constant flow of fluid that simulates natural conditions This results in a higher density of cells and support structures than other methods, and better stimulates the differentiation of those cells. It also produces the healthiest bone grafts – living replacement parts that could one day be used to repair damaged or defective bones in humans.
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