the project that grows your own bone wedding rings has a report out
Bone rings exchanged by couples
Couples are being given the opportunity to exchange jewellery
made from samples of their bone grown in the laboratory.
Scientists obtain bone cells from wisdom teeth and then grow
them on a “scaffold” material in the lab.
The efforts are part of a collaboration between scientists and
artists aiming to learn how to craft complex shapes from bone
Examples are to go on display at an exhibition at Guy’s and St
Thomas’ Hospital in London.
Harriet Harriss and Matt Harrison, one of five couples
involved in the project, have just been presented with their
rings made from their bone cells.
“I do think it’s interesting that I’ve only been in contact
with bone when it’s been in my dinner,” said Harriet, "So it’s
intriguing to have my own bone, my own matter objectified in
this way and made into something precious and symbolic.
Her partner Matt told BBC News: "When you think about it for a
while, it’s like ivory but more ethical, and the material has
never been part of Harriet, just grown from her code taken
from her body.
He added: “Yes it’s the reason why people are interested and
why they have the ‘yuck’ factor but when you see the object
and think about it, I don’t think it is gross at all. It’s
quite clean and pure.”
The scientists extracted the participants’ wisdom teeth to get
at a sliver of bone that attaches them to the jawbone.
They then dissolve the bone mineral and extract the bone cells
to go into the lab.
These are fed with nutrients and grown on a "scaffold"
material called bioglass, a special bioactive ceramic which
mimics the structure of bone material.
The original plan was to attempt to take a biopsy from the
volunteers, but the ethics and the risks of undergoing such a
medical procedure were too great.
Eventually, the technique could be used to grow large bits of
bone for people with cancer or who need bone replacements
“This will improve the welfare of the patient as you won’t
need to harvest bone from elsewhere in the body,” explained Dr
Ian Thompson, a research fellow in oral and maxillofacial
surgery at King’s College who is the scientist on the project.
“So if you have damaged a part of your jaw, you won’t need to
take a piece of the rib or somewhere else in the body to
replace that bit of damaged bone we would simply grow that new
piece in the laboratory and then implant it.”
Dr Thompson says he thinks it will be used in clinical
practice, but not in his lifetime.
Tobie Kerridge and Nikki Stott, the artists on the project,
fit the bone into jewellery made of bone and silver, to a
design agreed with the couples.
“I would get sent photographs of the material as it was
growing so in some sense I felt an emotional connection to the
process,” said Harriet.
"I am intrigued by how, for many people what is in their
bodies is a source of distress or discomfort for them.
“To take something that is from myself and make it into
something precious is a lovely thing and means quite a lot to
Examples of biojewellery can be seen at an exhibition in the
atrium of Guy’s Hospital, London, from 7 December until 14