A child with a broken arm

reNEW researchers have recreated, for the first time, the process for developing and growing long bones in a laboratory setting.

Genetic skeletal disorders affecting long bones can have a significant impact on an individual's growth, development, and overall well-being. One example of a genetic skeletal condition is osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly known as "brittle bone disease". In this condition, the structure and composition of bones is affected, resulting in bones that break easily, often with no obvious cause.

There are very few therapies for these bone disorders.

The research team, led by Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) Associate Professor Shireen Lamande, including collaborators Professor John Bateman and reNEW Melbourne researchers Associate Professor Elizabeth Ng and Professors Ed Stanley and Andrew Elefanty, use induced pluripotent stem cells to create cartilage that becomes more mature over time, similar to human development.

Using their novel system, the team can then transform certain cartilage cells into bone cells.

“Our method reproduces all the development events during the process of long bone formation, allowing us to better understand cartilage and bone development,” said Associate Professor Lamande.

“We can also simulate genetic disorders affecting cartilage and bone and explore potential treatments.”

See full publication: Modeling human skeletal development using human pluripotent stem cells.

The research team are also collaborating on a proof-of-concept project to investigate the ability of lab-grown, high-quality cartilage to repair damaged cartilage. This lab-grown cartilage shows the specific biochemical qualities of human surface articular cartilage and its underlying deep cartilage zones. This research is featured in our 2022 reNEW Annual Report.


This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia through project grants awarded to S.R.L. and J.F.B. (GNT2003393); S.R.L., A.G.E., and J.F.B. (GNT1144807 and GNT1146952); E.G.S. and A.G.E. (GNT1068866, GNT1129861); S.R.L. and E.S.N. (GNT1164577); and research fellowships awarded to A.G.E. (GNT1117596) and E.G.S. (GNT1079004) and project grants awarded by the Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative in Stem Cells (Stem Cells Australia) and by the Stafford Fox Medical Research Foundation. Additional infrastructure funding to the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute was provided by the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council Independent Research Institute Infrastructure Support Scheme and the Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program. Work in the laboratories of E.S.N., E.G.S, and A.G.E. in the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine is supported by Novo Nordisk Foundation grants (NNF21CC0073729).