The University of Texas at Arlington has teamed with Arlington Memorial Hospital to research whether bone growth from a person’s stem cells can replace bone grafts.
“This research will help us to formalize a specific type of scaffolding mixture that could eliminate the use of current bone grafting techniques,” said Dr. Joseph Borrelli, chair of orthopedics for the hospital, in a statement.
The idea is to harness the body’s healing abilities in repairing the bone rather than the standard method of scraping or shaving the pelvis to fix the initial defect or fracture. If successful, researchers say they’re hopeful the method could completely replace the grafting technique, which has a 25 percent complication rate.
Borrelli and Liping Tang, UTA’s bioengineering chair and professor, are the lead investigators on the project and co-authored a paper published in the online journal PLoS One. They are testing their theory by inserting a protein known to promote bone growth into the abdomen of mice. Ideally, this will attract stem cells that will then produce bone growth.
“Scientists determined that the abdomen of a mouse effectively mimics the traumatic and foreign body environmental response that takes place during various bone repair procedures in humans,” a release says. “Bone tissue can be generated in a few days through the process rather than the weeks or months existing processes take in a lab setting.”