Making new bone in the lab

Researchers at the University of Southampton are creating bone in the lab to help patients who suffer damage to their joints through injury or disease.

By combining bone stem cells with a 3D printed scaffold, Professor Richard Oreffo and team have been able to recreate hip implants custom designed for the patient. 

There’s a place for synthetic implants, but by repairing your own body with your own tissue there is less chance of rejection.

In the video above you can see cells ‘proliferating’ or increasing in number. The team use and apply scaffolds in a range of materials, including titanium which are then seeded with the patient’s own bone stem cells and a bone graft. This 3D printed, custom designed implant can then be inserted into the patient.

There are tens of thousands of bone injuries in the UK each year. With an increasingly ageing population, this method for creating bone is an exciting concept. Professor Richard Oreffo hopes that given their data from 3 patients over the last 12 months, within 5-7 years the procedure could become mainstream, routine practice. 

To read the full interview with Professor Oreffo visit: 


University of Rhode Island chemistry grad student Matthew Mullen snapped this photo just after dropping the organic dye Rhodamine 6G into a flask of ethanol. He let the dye mix with the ethanol, without stirring. Mullen would like to use this dye to develop a sensor for detecting explosive materials. When the dye gets exposed to these materials, its fluorescence is quenched, indicating the presence of dangerous compounds such as TNT.

Credit: Matthew Mullen (Enter our photo contest here)


Sean Hill, a graduate student in Kenneth Hanson’s research group at Florida State University, pours an eerie green-glowing solution of a boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY) dye into an Erlenmeyer flask. The ultraviolet light (365 nm) emitted by the two devices on either side makes the dye glow. BODIPY dyes have unique optical properties that make them ideal for applications, such as biological imaging and solar energy conversion.

Credit: Courtesy of Kenneth Hanson

(Enter our photo contest here)

Nobel scientist Tim Hunt: female scientists cause trouble for men in labs 

Scientists should work in gender-segregated labs, according to a Nobel laureate, who said the trouble with “girls” is that they cause men to fall in love with them and cry when criticised.

Tim Hunt, an English biochemist who admitted that he has a reputation for being a “chauvinist”, said to the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.”

Hunt said he was in favour of single-sex labs, adding that he didn’t want to “stand in the way of women”.

The 72-year-old, who won the 2001 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, made the remarks when addressing a convention of senior female scientists and science journalists.

His comments were tweeted by Connie St Louis, who directs the science journalism program at City University, London, and was attending the conference. She commented: “Really, does this Nobel laureate think we are still in Victorian times?”


Anna Slater, a postdoc in chemistry at the University of Liverpool, discovered this intriguing pattern on the side of a flask after leaving a porphyrin precursor to crystallize overnight. Her research focuses on understanding molecular self-assembly, with an eye toward designing new materials.

Credit: Anna Slater (Enter our photo contest here)


A scientist made the crystals above by taking advantage of iodine’s ability to sublime (convert directly from a solid to a gas) at ambient air pressure. Granular iodine was gently heated in one section of a closed vessel while another section was kept cold. The gaseous I2 molecules condensed onto the cold surface one at a time, arranging themselves into the repeating patterns of a crystal lattice. This recrystallization is a fast and effective way to purify iodine and other substances that sublime.