Biomedical researchers at the University of Michigan have created artificial bone marrow that can continuously make red and white blood cells. Not intended for implantation in humans, the new marrow is designed to function in a test tube, where it replicates blood stem cells and produces B cells-two key components of the immune system. In time, the artificial marrow could be used to generate blood for transfusions, test how drugs affect bone marrow function, and study immune system defects.
The artificial marrow grows on a 3-D scaffold similar to tissue supporting bone marrow in the body. To see if the artificial marrow would behave like real marrow, scientists tested it in mice with immune deficiencies. The mice produced human immune cells, and blood vessels grew through the artificial marrow.
Sources: Nichols JE, Cortiella J, Lee J, et al. In vitro analog of human bone marrow from 3D scaffolds with biomimetic inverted colloidal crystal geometry. Biomaterials. 2009;30(6):1071-1079; Biomedical researchers create artificial human bone marrow in a test tube, Newswise, December 23, 2008, http://www.newswise.com/p/articles/view/547720/.