Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Adult Stem Cells Aid Fracture Healing; UNC Study Lays Groundwork For Potential Treatments

Date:
June 18, 2008
Source:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Summary:
In an approach that could become a new treatment for the 10 to 20 percent of people whose broken bones fail to heal, researchers have shown that transplantation of adult stem cells can improve healing of fractures.

In an approach that could become a new treatment for the 10 to 20 percent of people whose broken bones fail to heal, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have shown that transplantation of adult stem cells can improve healing of fractures.

Adult stem cells are specialized cells with the ability to regenerate tissue in response to damage. However, many patients lack sufficient numbers of these cells and thus cannot heal properly.

Researchers have used adult stem cells in a few cases to improve fracture healing, but further studies were needed to show that this method was truly effective and safe before it can be pursued as a new treatment.

Now scientists at UNC have provided the scientific foundation for future clinical trials of this approach by demonstrating in animal models that these cells can be used to repair broken bones.

"This finding is critical to patients who lack the proper healing process and to individuals prone to broken bones, such as those with osteoporosis and the rare genetic condition known as brittle bone disease," said Dr. Anna Spagnoli, associate professor of pediatrics and biomedical engineering in the UNC School of Medicine and senior author on the study.

The study, presented June 16 at the annual Endocrine Society meeting in San Francisco by the first author, Froilan Granero-Molto, Ph.D., post-doctoral associate researcher in UNC's pediatrics department, is the first to visualize the action of transplanted adult stem cells as they mend fractures in mice.

During normal fracture healing, stem cells migrate to the site of the break, forming the cartilage and bone needed to fuse the broken bones back together. But in more than 600,000 Americans a year, this process does not occur as it should and these bones stay broken. The result can be long periods of immobilization, pain, bone deformities and even death.

Current therapies, such as multiple surgeries with bone autografts and artificial prosthetic materials, often are not enough to cure these patients.

"Man-made materials do not address the normal bone's function, and recurrent fractures, wear and toxicity are a real problem," Spagnoli said. "There is clearly a need to develop alternative therapies to enhance fracture healing in patients with bone union failure."

Kicking stem cells into repair mode is one of the objectives of a new branch of medicine called regenerative medicine. With a little prodding, stem cells in human bone marrow -- called mesenchymal stem cells -- can turn into bone, cartilage, fat, muscle and blood vessel cells.

"The beauty of regenerative medicine is that we are helping the body improve its innate ability to regenerate healthy tissue on its own, rather than introducing manmade materials to try to patch up a broken bone," Spagnoli said.

Granero-Molto and other colleagues led by Spagnoli demonstrated this approach by transplanting adult stem cells in mice with fractures of the tibia, the long bone of the leg. The cells were taken from the bone marrow of mice that produce luciferase, the same molecule that allows fireflies to glow. In addition to possessing the ability to glow, the cells were engineered to express a molecule called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a potent bone regenerator necessary for bones to grow both in size and strength.

The researchers transplanted the cells through a simple intravenous injection and then placed the mice into a dark box so they could track the glowing stem cells as they migrated within the rodent. They found that these cells were specifically attracted to the fracture site, and that a particular molecule called CXCR4 -- which acts as a homing signal -- was necessary for the migration.

Using a computerized tomography (CT or CAT) scan, the researchers showed that the stem cells not only migrated to the site of the fracture, but also improved healing there by increasing the bone and cartilage that bridged the bone gap. The bone at the fracture site in the treated mice was about three times stronger than that of untreated controls.

If scientists can duplicate the results of this animal study in humans, it may lead to a new treatment for the millions of people who suffer fractures that do not heal properly, Spagnoli said. Once a physician determines that the bone has not healed, they could obtain adult stem cells from the person's bone marrow in a minimally invasive procedure and transplant them at the same time the patient is receiving a bone graft.

Spagnoli said adult stem cells may pose fewer problems than embryonic stem cells, since they are not associated with the ethical controversy that surrounds the latter. Also, they may avoid the problem of rejection by the immune system, since the patient's own cells can be used.

Funding for the study came from the National Institutes of Health.

Other co-authors of the study include Dr. Lara Longobardi, UNC assistant professor of pediatrics, along with the following researchers from Vanderbilt University: Dr. Michael Miga, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; Dr. Jared A. Weis, postgraduate fellow in biomedical engineering; Benjamin Landis, medical student; and Lynda O'Rear, research specialist.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Adult Stem Cells Aid Fracture Healing; UNC Study Lays Groundwork For Potential Treatments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080616133128.htm>.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2008, June 18). Adult Stem Cells Aid Fracture Healing; UNC Study Lays Groundwork For Potential Treatments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080616133128.htm
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Adult Stem Cells Aid Fracture Healing; UNC Study Lays Groundwork For Potential Treatments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080616133128.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins