Rings of bone

BONES, human or otherwise, as ornaments have been in vogue since times immemorial. Before the dawn of modern civilisation, tribal chiefs used to collect bones and skulls of their enemies after vanquishing them to wear around necks to mark their victories.

Even today, human bones play an inexplicable role in some tribal and pagan rituals. In a biotech twist to the clannish belief of attaining something supernatural through bones, a research project has been launched in London to grow rings made out of bones of couples who want to cherish their married life to the bone.

That’s the initial intention. But, later on, the researchers involved in the experiment hope to grow bones for the human body in the lab. Scientists have zeroed in on rings because they are the symbols of social and cultural ethos and a wedding ring is the matrimonial bond between a man and a woman.

The project, the brainchild of two designers and a bio-engineer, is not aimed at firming up wedding vows with bone rings or create some fancy rings for the super rich but to fire public imagination and kick off a debate on bioengineering, which is still in a nascent stage. While a great deal of research has been going on stem cells, there is little progress in growing bones. The bio-jewellery project is designed to test new technologies, which can ultimately lead to pioneering work in bone research.

In the bio-jewellery project, bone cells have been taken from five volunteers’ jawbones and they are being subjected to various scientific processes to produce a biomaterial similar in structure and analogous to the nature and composition of bone. The ‘rings of bone’ experiment is expected to yield valuable information and bone up on the research going on in different parts of the world. A new hope for people suffering from bone-related problems.

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