Well-functioning in-vitro models of human osteocytes are lacking. Scientists at the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital have developed a method to culture bone cells into osteospheres (bone-like spheroids) in a rotation bioreactor, without any type of scaffold. This unique replica of human cortical bone can be used to study osteocytes and mechanisms in bone metabolism, and has the potential to be used in drug screens to identify cellular and molecular responses to medication.
Inven2 AS seeks partners for out-licensing of the IP.
The researchers have demonstrated that the method develops osteospheres from bone cells in vitro that contain organized bone-like structures with embedded osteocytes. Entrapped, stellate shaped cells interconnected with canaliculi typical of osteocytes embedded in mineralised collagen matrix were demonstrated using histological methods, immunohistochemistry (IHC), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy combined with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX).
Today, osteocytes are difficult to study as they lay deeply embedded in mineralized bone tissue. There are no models available today for the whole bone-like structure, except for animal models. Primary human osteocytes are rapidly dedifferentiated when they are grown in 2D cell cultures. Some cell-lines are available; however, they do not fully develop the human osteocytic phenotype, and the natural three-dimensional structure of osteocytes cannot be investigated thoroughly in 2D models or on artificial scaffolds. In this 3D human osteocyte model, bone cells are differentiated into osteocytes in their own bone matrix making it possible to study human osteocyte biology in vitro in a controlled environment. This model may to an extent replace animal experiments.
The technology involves valuable know-how that currently are kept secret. Novel and inventive aspects will be subject of a patent application filing when found appropriate and optimal for the project.