Bone marrow is one of the most important organs of our immune system is, which damage inevitably leads to the death of a person. However, a group of scientists at the University of Basel, University Hospital Basel, and ETH Zurich (Switzerland) engineered an artificial bone marrow niche that overcomes the limitations of previous approaches, at least for a short period of time. The artificial bone marrow tissue that they presented acts like its biological prototype, and can create stem cells. Their approach starts with a ceramic 3D scaffold made to resemble human bone. This scaffold is then combined with mesenchymal stromal cells from the human body inside a perfusion bioreactor – a special device that mixes biological and synthetic materials. The resulting conglomerates are placed in a perfusion bioreactor in order for the biological material to “stick” with the artificial skeleton.
After unification, the tissue enginered through this process has been functioning just like the bone marrow for almost three weeks, producing hematopoietic stem cells and progenitor cells. Moreover, this structure was very closely resembled the molecular structure of real bone marrow niches.