Making Bone Marrow in the Lab


Among science's more interesting studies is the work with mini human organs. These small versions of our organs are called organoids and are a great way to study disease. There are organoids of the human intestine, brain, kidney and lung. They accelerate our understanding of how these tissues function which allow researchers to test drugs and therapies.

Now a new organoid system models the human bone marrow. Both our red and white blood cells are made there and allow us to live healthy lives. Yet it's also the source of blood diseases and cancers.

Researchers created the bone marrow organoid system by starting with human pluripotent stem cells which can become most cells in the human body. Then using an array of chemical signals, these cells were prodded to generate specialized cells that ultimately behaved like bone marrow cells. Using high powered imaging, scientists found that they self-organized into their usual structures architecturally and began with their normal activities.

The cells were self-driven and communicated with each other to indicate their position and directed each stem cell to evolve into the types needed to complete the tissue. Once done, the organoid contained blood vessels that could circulate blood cells to keep the structure alive.

And it could also support cancerous blood cells which wasn't possible before. This way certain cancers can be studied along with the testing of cancer killing drugs - a new powerful tool in fighting disease.

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More Information

Human Bone Marrow Organoids for Disease Modeling, Discovery, and Validation of Therapeutic Targets in Hematologic Malignancies
We present a human bone marrow organoid that supports the growth of primary cells from patients with myeloid and lymphoid blood cancers. This model allows for mechanistic studies of blood cancers in the context of their microenvironment and provides a much-needed ex vivo tool for the prioritization of new therapeutics...

Researchers make miniature 'bone marrows in a dish' to improve anti-cancer treatments
Scientists from Oxford University and the University of Birmingham have made the first bone marrow 'organoids' that include all the key components of human marrow. This technology allows for the screening of multiple anti-cancer drugs at the same time, as well as testing personalised treatments for individual cancer patients...