Why Biomedical Engineering Bone Growth Techniques Is The Wrong Path
After I wrote the post where I had said that there is almost nothing left to say, and nothing left to research, at least on the level of theory and reading more articles, someone sent a link to a technique being developed in some Bioengineering or Biomedical Engineering Lab in Rice University where either a Grad Student or Post Doc was working on their little project, creating a type of gel which can be applied to bone to grow bones.
The problem with this bone growing gel technique is that it will NOT work for what we are trying to do.
Here are the 4 main axioms on the science of height increase
Axiom #1: Bones, the actual one tissue, the extracellular bone matrix, consisting of both the organic and inorganic components of the ECM, do NOT grow.
Axiom #2: It is either the marrow inside the bones or the outer layer wrapped around the bone called the periosteum that makes the entire bone grow.
Axiom #3: Most bioengineering and biomedical engineering techniques which claim to “grow bone” are talking about increasing the bone mineral density (BMD), which is used for treating low bone density aka osteoporosis, which affects postmenopausal women, since their ovaries have no more eggs aka no more release of estrogen. Increasing bone density does not increase bone volume, which is what we want.
Axiom #4: We want to find techniques which can grow cartilage, and keep the cartilage sustained and healthy for as long as possible.
Cartilage tissue, but most especially hyaline cartilage, is extremely hard to generate or regenerate when they start to degrade.
Now, here is two other axioms I would like to add with that list…
Axiom #5: Finding ways to grow bone tissue is very easy. – All you need is any type of biodegradable scaffold with a little bit of growth factor (there are plenty to choose from) placed in a fracture and you would have grown bones. Any local state university lab with a bioengineering department would have at least one professor or post-doc which is doing research like this – The technique has been done to death in thousands of research university labs around the world.
Axiom #6: Finding ways to grow cartilage tissue is very hard – This is what we are searching for. Not only that, we are looking for ways to actually induce bone tissue to turn into cartilage tissue.
This process we are trying to learn, by reading all the literature and guessing at the protein pathways, is to maybe figure out a few external stimuli to trigger the right gene expression so that a dormant region inside either the microRNA, or the “left-over RNA” to turn back on. It might be that the “waste RNA” which was active during embryogenesis, creating all the cartilage in babies and young children, can NEVER be turned back on but actually are completely dead. If that is the case, then there would be no easy technique like pressing a “button” to induce cells to transdifferentiate.
We are trying to do the impossible, which is induce the process of transdifferentiation, in the opposite direction that nature has set forth.
Here is the last two axioms I will add…
Axiom #7: The way nature and the universe works as time progresses —> Cartilage Cells aka Chondrocytes transdifferentiation into Bone Cells aka Osteoblasts
Axiom #8: What we are looking for when we are combing through the entire human medical research database is to create a theoretical and feasible scientific technique to go in the exact opposite direction —> Bone Cells aka Osteoblasts transdifferentiation into Cartilage Cells aka Chondrocytes.
To put it in some type of physics analogy, it is like us trying to find a secret loophole to go against the 2nd law of entropy. As everyone realizes, the only law that one can never break based on all the laws that humans have come up with is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which states that the disorder of the analyzed system will NEVER decrease over time. So using this physics analogy, and going back to our bioengineering endeavor, we are trying to go against the natural process.
I really do appreciate the effort some of the readers put in to help find articles like this one (about the new medical gel turning into bone), but we are actually looking for a different type of research, involving a different type of tissue.