This Week in Science – September 30, 2016

By Justine Jiang

3-D Printed Bone Grafts Can Stimulate New Bone Growth

Researchers at Northwestern University have formulated a ceramic-polymer blend that could prompt new bones to grow in animals. The inks are envisioned to be affordable and accessible to the public in the future, an ideal customized graft for repairing and mending broken bones.

Made with a combination of mineral found in bones called hydroxyapatite, and a biodegradable polymer, the hyperelastic “bone” is porous and adsorbent. According to popsci.com, coauthor Ramille Shah stated, “When we squeezed or deformed it, it bounced right back to its original shape.” The 3-D printed scaffold structure acts like the framing of a building, allowing human stem cells to latch on and differentiate into mature bone cells. Further testing will be required to create a seamless formulation for future applications. Bioengineers are hoping to start clinical trials within five years.

Kite Pharma Reports Impressive Phase II Results on CAR T-cells

Kite Pharma has released promising phase II results on Tuesday using CAR T-cell therapy in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. The company is currently seeking marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for phase III clinical trial.

CAR T-cell therapy involves a series of steps: using T-cells taken from a patient, the cells are reengineered in a laboratory setting to recognize an antigen on target tumor cells. “Fighter” cells are then multiplied and re-infused into the patient where they can directly target and destroy tumor cells. Currently, CAR T-cell therapy is only available in clinical trials, though that may soon change thanks to Kite Pharma,

The press release stated that with the therapy, a 76% objective remission rate was seen in patients, including 47% of patients experiencing complete remissions. However, there are still concerns regarding the duration of remission as well as overall safety from adverse side effects. A 6-month follow-up will be conducted to track the cancer’s progress in the first quarter of 2017.

The World Welcomes Its First 'Three-Parent Baby'

Five months ago, on April 6th, 2016, the world silently welcomed its first successful three-parent baby into the world. Using a technique called mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), the clinic’s team successfully allocated the nucleus of the mother’s egg into the donor’s egg, finishing the process by fertilizing it with the father’s sperm.

Researchers at the New Hope Fertility Center stated that the process will be revealed at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Scientific Congress in October, and a high level abstract can be found currently on the website. The motive behind this controversial practice is preventing a rare disease from being passed from parent to child. Dr. John Zhang, who led the medical team, is adamant that the procedure was the right call. “To save lives is the ethical thing to do,” New Scientist reported. The baby boy was reported to be healthy, with less than one percent of its mitochondria carrying the rare mutation.