Israeli Startup Reports Successful Transplant of Lab-grown Bones

Bonus Biogroup's semi-liquid bone graft was injected into the jaws of 11 people to repair bone loss in early-stage clinical trial.

A researcher displays parts of a lab-grown, semi-liquid bone graft at the laboratory of Israeli biotech firm Bonus Biogroup in Haifa, Israel December 4, 2016.
Baz Ratner / Reuters

Bonus Biogroup's lab-grown, semi-liquid bone graft was successfully injected into the jaws of 11 people to repair bone loss in an early stage clinical trial, the Israeli biotech company said on Monday.

The material, grown in the lab from each patient's own fat cells, was injected into and filled the voids of the problematic bones. Over a few months it hardened and merged with the existing bone to complete the jaw, it said.

The announcement was made in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (the company trades under the ticker symbol BONS). As of mid-morning trading the stock was down nearly 5% on heavy turnover of over 600,000 shekels - but in previous days, it had risen sharply, also on uncharacteristically heavy turnover.

Bonus Biogroup presented its results at the International Conference on Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Spain on Monday. The day before, its stock shot up 9% in heavy trading in Tel Aviv, after the firm announced that it would be presenting its results in Madrid.

The company, which has raised $14 million, said it plans to dual list on Nasdaq in the coming months.

"For the first time worldwide, reconstruction of deficient or damaged bone tissue is achievable by growing viable human bone graft in a laboratory, and transplanting it back to the patient in a minimally invasive surgery via injection," said CEO Shai Meretzki.

Meretzki previously founded the Nasdaq-listed company Pluristem Therapeutics, which works with stem cells and is one of the more advanced Israeli biomed companies.

Ora Burger, vice president of regulation affairs at Haifa-based Bonus Biogroup, told Reuters the transplant "was 100 percent successful in all 11 patients".

"Now we are going to conduct a clinical study in the extremities, long bones," she said.

It bears noting that this is a technology undergoing development, which has yet to undergo more extensive clinical trials and approval by medical authorities regarding its efficacy and safety. It is not generally available.