Adult Stem Cells to Fix Fractures

A new study presented in San Fransisco in the United States of America by Froilan Granero-Molto has revealed that adult stem cells can help improve healing of broken bones and could eventually serve as a new treatment for the ten to twenty percent of fractures that are unsuccessful in healing.

The lack of fracture fix often leads to several surgeries, long periods of immobilization, pain, bone deformities, and sometimes worse with death. The exact reason why a patient's fracture does not often heal remains unknown in most cases but it seems that adult stem cells could help a lot there.

Researchers actually believe that a key reason for bone union failure may be a deficiency in adult stem cells, which normally become reparative cells in response to damage done. Stem cells in human bone marrow can become a lot of things like bone, cartilage, muscle, and more.

These adult stem cells, which can be obtained from a patient's bone marrow in a minimally insidious process, have been reported to improve fracture healing in a few patients, Spagnoli said. However, animal studies are needed before clinical trials can begin on human beings.

Therefore, Spagnoli and her coworkers performed a study in mice with leg fractures. They simply took adult stem cells from the bone marrow of mice and engineered the cells to express a potent bone regenerator, insulin-like growth factor one. Then they transplanted the treated cells into mice with a fracture of the tibia bone in the leg. Using computed tomography scanning, they showed that the treated mice had better fracture healing than did the untreated one. They established that the stem cells had migrated to the fracture site in the mice and increased the bone and cartilage that bridged the bone gap to make it heal better.

This study provided critical data needed to implement a novel curative approach in patients with fracture healing problems.

If scientists can duplicate the results of this animal study in humans, it may lead to a way to help a lot of people around the world who suffer from fractures that do not heal properly.

The use of adult stem cells would have several advantages over embryonic stem cells. First of all they simply do not have the ethical controversy that surrounds embryonic stem cells taken by cord blood banks from umbilical cord blood, and they may avoid the immune rejection response, since the patient's own cells can be used to treat them directly.