Stem cells regrow long bones

Life & Health

Researchers are using stem cells and 3-d printing, hoping to actually regrow broken long bones.

Yudith Burreal broke her leg when an ATV rolled on her a year ago.

She says, “It was completely missing. They didn’t know, it was a big chunk of my bone. It was my tibia bone.”

Her doctors used her bone and marrow to fix the break. but Yudith ended her plans to go into the military, believing her leg wouldn’t support her in training.

University of Arizona researchers are developing a way to fix broken long bones with stem cells, a 3-d printed scaffold, and a sensor to monitor exercise that helps bones heal.

John Szivek is the director of the Robert G. Volz Orthopedic Research Laboratory and says, “If we can fill our scaffold with these cells, the bone will start to form throughout the length of the scaffold.”

Stem cells are multiplied in a lab, and run, with calcium particles, through the scaffold between the bone ends. a rod holds it in place for six to nine months. the bone grows in and around the scaffold.

Dr. David Margolis from the University of Arizona says, “Lately, we have been successful with removing all of the supporting hardware and showing that supporting the bone that we’re regrowing is actually functional tissue, to show that it does not need any additional orthopedic hardware in order to function.”

This work is funded by a two million dollar grant from the defense department.

Szivek says, “We believe that using this type of approach could regrow the bones for the soldiers and they would be able to return to active military service.”

Researchers will report the recent success they’ve had with procedures on sheep to the FDA.

If the agency accepts it, a phase one trial of fewer than ten people could start soon.

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