June 18, 2008

Adult Stem Cells May Help Fracture Healing

In a study in mice, adult stem cells improved healing of fractured bones, U.S. researchers said.

Senior study investigator Dr. Anna Spagnoli of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill said that the stem cells migrated to the fracture site and increased the bone and cartilage bridging the gap.

Our study provided critical data needed to implement a novel therapeutic approach in patients with impaired fracture healing, Spagnoli said in a statement. If scientists can duplicate the results of this animal study in humans, it may lead to a way to help the 600,000 people in the United States every year who suffer fractures that do not heal properly.

Spagnoli and colleagues assisted by investigators from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., took bone marrow stem cells to engineer a potent bone regenerator, insulin-like growth factor and transplanted it back to each mouse to treat a fracture of the tibia -- the long bone of the leg. Scans indicated the treated mice had better fracture healing than did untreated controls.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society in San Francisco.