A jaw, grown on a titanium frame, enabled the man to chew for the first time since he lost his lower jaw in radical surgery for cancer. The functional jawbone was created using a combination of computer aided design and bone stem cells.
The 56-year-old German man underwent surgery to remove cancerous tumours on his jawbone in 1995, and since then he was able to eat only soup and soft foods. But just four weeks after a pioneering jaw-creation and transplantation procedure, he tucked into a meal of sausages and bread.
Current techniques for replacing lost bone usually rely on a painful, slow-healing bone graft from another part of the body, causing loss of bone density in the donor area and a secondary site of possible infection. Flat areas, such as the shoulder blade, are often used, which are far from ideal replicates for a complex three-dimensional structure like jawbone.
Now, doctors at the University of Kiel in Germany have neatly bypassed the initial bone removal procedure and instead grown the required bone from stem cells in the patient’s own bone marrow.
"Silicon Valley tycoons, Nobel laureates and Hollywood celebrities are backing a measure on California's Nov. 2 ballot to devote $3 billion to human embryonic stem cell experiments in what would be the biggest-ever state-supported scientific research program in the country."