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:: Friday, August 27, 2004 ::

Really Friggin' Cool

Doctors have been able to grow cartilage on scaffolding to make ears and such for the past eight years or so. Now, apparently, they're able to do the same with bone, albeit a little more crudely.

Warnke and his group began by creating a virtual jaw on a computer, after making a three-dimensional scan of the patient's mouth.

The information was used to create a thin titanium micro-mesh cage. Several cow-derived pure bone mineral blocks the size of sugar lumps where then put inside the structure, along with a human growth factor that builds bone and a large squirt of blood extracted from the man's bone marrow, which contains stem cells.

The surgeons then implanted the mesh cage and its contents into the muscle below the patient's right shoulder blade. He was given no drugs, other than routine antibiotics to prevent infection from the surgery.

The implant was left in for seven weeks, when scans showed new bone formation. It was removed about eight weeks ago, along with some surrounding muscle and blood vessels, put in the man's mouth and connected to the blood vessels in his neck.

Scans showed new bone continued to form after the transplant.

Four weeks after the operation, the man ate a German sausage sandwich, his first real meal in nine years. He eats steak now, but complains to his doctor that because he has no teeth he has to cut it into such small pieces that by the time he gets to the end of the steak, it's cold.

He has reported no pain or any other difficulties associated with the transplant, Warnke said, adding that he hopes to be able to remove the mesh and implant teeth in the new jaw about a year from now.

:: The Squire 3:17 PM :: email this post :: ::


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