Broken bones that often take a few months to heal can be healed in days with the use of stem cells, animal studies show. Studies conducted by the scientists from the University of Georgia Regenerative Bioscience Center, Baylor University College of Medicine, Rice University and the University of Texas can enable decrease in time needed to heal fractures. The study that can bring completely new approach to fracture treatment in humans and animals was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Complex fractures that often lead to limb amputations in U.S. military men and women can be treated in a new way—faster and more efficient one. Large-bone injuries call for stabilization and fast bone formation which is a challenge for modern medicine. To broaden the list of possible therapies for bone fractures, the group of scientists was working with stem cells.
To heals the broken bones, the researchers used a product containing mesenchymal stem cells that allowed these cells to survive in the fracture long enough to speed up the new bone formation. In particular, they used adult stem cells producing protein that is involved in bone generation and healing. Then they incorporated these stem cells into a gel and got product they called “fracture putty”.
Having inserted putty into fractures in rats and using stabilizing device, the researchers could observe healed animals running around with no sign of injury two weeks after the treatment. The material is being also tested in pigs and sheep, and good progress is made. Using sheep in their experiments, the researchers showed that a new bone could be formed in less than four weeks. The speed of bone formation is a unique feature of this study.
After the group is able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the method in large animals, they aim for clinical trials in veterinary. Then, after the treatment is found for animals, the trials involving humans can be conducted.