Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bones can be made from stem cells

Stem cells have been touted as tools to regenerate all possible tissues, therefore having an unlimited potential to cure disease. Though it is clear that making a solid treatment based on stem cells is harder than originally thought, scientists are slowly finding better ways to turn stem cells into tissues of choice, ready to be implanted in patients to take over the function of diseased tissue. Recent studies have shown stem cells can be used to treat brain injury, visual impairment, a failing heart, or a damaged spinal cord. There are many more studies being performed, and a recent one from The New York Stem Cell Foundation has shown it is possible to create bone from stem cells.

So far, the scientists have demonstrated they can make small bone tissue, meaning that full-size bones are not yet possible. Nevertheless, the tissues they produce are large enough to repair 'centimetre-sized' defects. The therapy consists of so-called progenitor cells that are derived from embryonic stem cells. Progenitors are primitive versions of a particular cell type and aid in tissue renewal, but are not as flexible as real stem cells. Embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, have the capability to specialize into all possible tissue types, and scientists have found ways to control the differentiation process. By culturing the stem cells on a bone-like substrate, they acquired the required properties needed for incorporation in bone tissue after being transplanted.

Progenitor cells were injected in mice with bone defects and tracked over time. The scientists found that the aforementioned progenitor cells integrated nicely with the 'native' tissue, and grew like ordinary bone. Additionally, they supported the ingrowth of blood vessels, which is important because due to oxygen and nutrient supply. No signs of tumour growth were found: stem cells are not always abiding the tissue rules and can start growing in an uncontrolled fashion, which is why the absence of badly behaving cells bodes well for future human treatments.

Efficacious mice treatment renders future clinical trials possible, even though it is not yet known when the first human experiments can start. It is likely that more studies are needed to prove efficacy and safety. The scientists hope to use patient-own stem cells as source for the bone progenitors, as it will improve compatibility. A technique to create stem cells from ordinary skin cells has recently been optimized, making the bone therapy look promising. Patients with bone damage due to trauma or cancer could benefit from the newfound treatment, just like those suffering from congenital bone defects.


  1. Hello,

    Nice post. Stem cells are also contained to the site of bone injury due to the gel used in the procedure. These type of transplant may someday provide a way to treat cancer formations inside the body. I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information....

  2. I really appreciate the information that you shared with your readers we must we aware about new techniques and technology develop every day finally i want to say thanks for the wonderful information.