Bony breaks

 
Published: Tuesday 31 December 1996

Among the successes recorded in the field of tissue engineering (the development of spare parts for the body), the growth of bones is one. "This is exciting because we have been mimicking the natural process of development," says A Hari Reddi, of the biology and orthopaedics department at the Johns Hopkin Medical Centre at Baltimore, US. The key to the recent success is the knowledge of a family of molecules called bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs).

Charles Cohen, chief scientist at Creative Biomolecules, working on developing products from bone proteins, said, "We are working on the body's own signalling molecules. The BMP sign tells the cell to 'go' and their neighbourhood tells the cell whether to be bone or cartilage."

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