What I love most about regenerative medicine is that it helps us discover how amazing the
bodies that we live in every day truly are.
We live inside an ecosystem comprised of trillions of cells,
and somehow these cells conspire to keep us alive.
Being able to put that in practice at EpiBone is an instance of
just seeing cellular intelligence at work.
We take those stem cells and we coax them into becoming tissues, and I think that philosophically
is one of the most rewarding parts of the work is to get to see that firsthand.
EpiBone is a technology that combines digital fabrication,
and the technology of stem cell science to grow essentially bone and cartilage specifically,
that can replace the bones and cartilage in our bodies that get damaged.
Bone is the most transplanted human tissue after blood,
and there's not always enough bone to go around.
By the time we go through this lifetime, 75% of us will be living with parts of our body
that we were not born with.
We at EpiBone said, why can't we use those cells that grew our bodies in the first place
that participate in repair every day?
Why can't we collaborate with those cells and make sure that those parts that we're
bound to have accumulated are made not out of metal, not out of plastic,
but made out of ourselves?
The way it works is we take two things from the patient, we take first a CT scan so that
we can extract the three-dimensional data out of that and we know what shape of tissue
we aim to grow and we also take a sample of fat tissue from the patient so that we can
extract the stem cells out of those and those stem cells serve as the starting population
for growing the tissue.
Then our secret sauce is the bioreactor component.
This is a fancy word for a cell culture system in which we use engineering principles to
mimic the conditions of the human body, providing controlled oxygen, nutrient delivery, and
mechanical forces that are important to get those stem cells to become bone and cartilage.
And after three weeks, we have a piece of tissue that's ready for implantation.
The long-term vision for our field is to banish organ donation.
To be able to say, let's start with the living building blocks of life, i.e. cells, and use
them, collaborate with them to generate replacement parts for the human body.
That's the future that I think many of us want to see, being able to extend our healthy
lifetimes by becoming more fluent in the language of cells.
It's a world that we're making real one day at a time, and we're going to collectively
bring this future into our present.