Researchers at the University of Michigan have succeeded in creating artificial bone marrow that is capable of continuously generating new red and white blood cells. The discovery may help simplify procedures for drug testing and immune system defects.
Project leader Nicholas Kotov, a professor in the U-M departments of Chemical Engineering, has revealed that the marrow is not made to be implanted in the body.
He said that it would instead be used for lab tests.
"This is the first successful artificial bone marrow. It has two of the essential functions of bone marrow. It can replicate blood stem cells and produce B cells. The latter are the key immune cells producing antibodies that are important to fighting many diseases," Kotov said.
The researchers said that the new artificial marrow could help determine how a new drug at certain potencies would affect bone marrow function, and thereby assist in drug development and catch severe side effects before human drug trials.
They also claimed that they had become the first research team to show that the artificial marrow gave a human-like response to an infectious New Caledonia/99/H1N1 flu virus.
With a view to seeing whether the substance would behave like real bone marrow, the researchers implanted it in mice with immune deficiencies.
The mice produced human immune cells and blood vessels grew through the substance, they revealed.
An article on this research work has been published in the online edition of the journal Biomaterials.