UK researchers are evaluating the stem cell efficacy in facial reconstruction. The details of the joint research by scientists from London's Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London have been reported in the journal Nanomedicine.
Great Ormond Street Hospital has extensive experience in facial reconstruction, in particular, in treating microtia – missing missing or malformed ear. Traditionally, to reconstruct the ear, doctors take cartilage from the patient's ribs, make a "scaffold" for an ear from it, and then implant under the skin.Though this method has proved successful to date, the cartilage from ribs taken to reconstruct the ears does not restore.
Therefore, the researchers are looking for stem cell solutions for face reconstruction. One of them may be growing cartilage from fat stem cells taken from the patient (autologous cells).The doctors would need only a small sample of the patient’s fat to extract stem cells for further manipulations. Then the cells can be placed onto an ear-shaped nanoscaffold and treated with chemicals to produce cartilage cells. Then the cartilage can be transplanted beneath the patient's skin.
Using stem cells to produce cartilage reduces side effects and chances of new ear rejection by the body, making immunosuppression unnecessary. Fat stem cells to not pose tumor risks. The treatment is also less invasive compared with that using rib cartilage.
Apart for creating new ears, the method may be helpful for creating noses and tracheal transplants. However, the finding still needs to undergo safety testing before the method can be tested in clinics.