The human body is very picky.
Bone transplants are more advanced than ever, but they still run into complications when the body rejects what it sees as a foreign object, leading to infections or defective transplants.
That’s where EpiBone comes in. The Harlem-based startup wants people to grow replacement bones using their own stem cells.
The futuristic process is akin to 3D printing your own bones. A cow bone is stripped of all living material and milled down to the precise size and shape needed for the transplant. Stem cells are added and over weeks gradually grow within their host into a physical and genetic replica of the patient’s own bone.
EpiBone has successfully tested its idea in pigs, and human trials are next, with approval from the Food and Drug Administration expected in the next few years.
If successful, the company will essentially make us factories for our own transplants.
Bloomberg’s profile of EpiBone is the latest installment of The Spark, which looks at innovators finding solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.