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Bone Body Shop

Michal Ish Shalom

No, this isn’t Frankenstein, but it is a novel way of growing custom-made bones in a lab. Bonus BioGroup of Haifa sees a future where just about any bone in your body can be custom grown and transplanted to order.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Nearly everything at the Bonus BioGroup laboratory is white: the walls, the closets, the work surfaces — even the clothes worn by the laboratory technicians. The only color that breaks the monotony is the pale red of a liquid being injected into molds shaped liked bones. For that’s what they do at Bonus BioGroup lab in Haifa: They grow bones. Dr. Shai Meretzki, the president and CEO of the company, explains that the red liquid injected into the molds, which he calls “growth surfaces,” are feeding various nutrients into the bones, just like in the human body. At the end of the process, an actual human bone will be formed, in the size and shape determined by the scientists in the laboratory. This bone, whose beginnings are cells extracted from the patient’s own fat tissue, will then be inserted in place of a broken or missing bone. And, unlike bone grafts, Bonus BioGroup is betting that these lab-grown bones won’t be rejected by the body. No bones about it, this is exciting technology. Until recently, Meretzki tells Mishpacha, the notion of producing bones made to order from the cells of the human body itself, was the stuff of science fiction. But at this very moment, there are 20 people undergoing various stages of clinical trials, where their new bones will hopefully be successfully integrated into their bodies. Welcome to the 21st century bone market that one day may be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

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