World’s 1st Patient With Lab-Grown Bone Implant Competes In Israman Triathlon

Danny Yaakobson at the Eilat Israman competition, January 2019. Photo by Shvoong photografers

When Danny Yaakobson, an extreme sports enthusiast, suffered a serious leg injury following a car accident two years ago, he did not imagine he would become the world’s first patient to receive a lab-grown bone implant made from his own fat cells to replace a missing section of his shinbone, let alone take part in an Israman triathlon just a year following the surgery.

But that is exactly what happened. While traveling abroad in 2017, Yaakobson suffered a road accident and nearly lost his whole leg. The injury was serious and painful, he says, but his doctor told him about a clinical trial that would change the course of his life. The now 41-year-old agreed to the trial of a revolutionary technology called BonoFill, a novel tissue-engineered bone graft, composed of the patient’s own cells, developed by Israeli biotechnology company Bonus BioGroup.

Bonus BioGroup CEO Dr. Shai Meretzki, right. Courtesy of Bonus BioGroup

During the process, human fat tissue is extracted from the patient. Bonus BioGroup then separates the various types of cells and isolates the stem cells. The stem cells are removed and stimulated in a bioreactor, a special device that simulates the body’s environment and provides suitable conditions for bone generation. The fat cells are then grown in a lab until the tissue becomes solid, after which the hardened bone tissue is injected back into the patient’s body.

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