Bone grafts help millions of people suffering from bone loss due to trauma or disease. Typically, traumatic bone injuries and bone loss due to disease have been mended with synthetic grafts or segments of bone taken from another area in the patient’s body. However, these treatments do not last long-term in growing bodies, and lack vasculature required for mature bone growth. In vitro tests at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute of a new technology called Segmental Additive Tissue Engineering (SATE) have demonstrated stem cell grown segments of bone creating large scale, personalized grafts. The SATE protocol seeds the patient’s own stem cells into a scaffold and directs the cells to develop into customized and vascularized bone segments, which pose virtually no risk of rejection, and are able to grow with the patient.
The FDA has approved a novel synthetic scaffold that would allow stem cells to regrow bone more efficiently. The proprietary technology, Osteo-P [from Molecular Matrix Inc.], replaces the use of bone grafts and utilizes the patient’s own stem cells to regrow bone following trauma or injury. The Osteo-P, a scaffold made of carbohydrate [sugar] polymer, is an improved alternative to current bone grafting procedures in that it enables the body’s own stem cells to regenerate bone in aggregate, and it is resorbed by the body as it is replaced by the newly formed bone.
The team at Central Hospital in Nancy, France is conducting research utilizing dental stem cells to regrow and restore bone density. The trial aims to direct dental mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into engineered osteoblasts, as well as promoting angiogenesis, which is necessary given that bones typically lack sufficient vascularization to make efficient repairs. The benefit of using autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells makes this an effective treatment option that does not pose a risk of rejection. By directing stem cells to promote bone mineralization and endothelial growth, as well as creating vascularization to promote healing, stem cells can be applied to a variety of bone trauma and deficiencies.
Researchers at University of Glasgow have developed a new “nanokicking” technology, which directs mesenchymal stem cells to precisely differentiate into a bone material for use in fracture repairs and bone grafting. By subjecting the stem cells to ‘nanokicking’ – precise, nanoscale vibrations, while the cells are in a collagen gel, these cells can more effectively transform into bone cells capable of replenishing damaged or depleted bone mass. Current bone grafts obtained from patients themselves nearly never yield enough bone material to be clinically relevant for severe injuries, and donor bone grafts have a high risk of rejection hence, autologous stem cell grafts represent an optimal treatment option for patients suffering from any type of bone trauma or deficiency. With bone being the second most grafted tissue [behind blood], ‘nanokicking’ the patient’s own stem cells would significantly impact patient outcomes following reconstructive, maxillofacial and orthopedic surgeries.
Dr. Mildred C. Embree and her team at the Columbia College of Dental Medicine have discovered stem cells that can facilitate the growth of cartilage and repair damaged joints. The fibrocartilage found in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in the jaw bone does not readily regrow or heal itself – hence, researchers worked to manipulate the stem cells that reside in the TMJ to regenerate cartilage and repair the joint.
An Australian periodontist has pioneered a new 3D printing technique that regrows missing gum tissue and jaw bones. Traditionally, bone and tissue replacements are taken from other parts of the body such as the hip or femur. Dr. Ivanovki’s method uses a bioprinter to grow missing tissue from a patient's own cells. This 3D printing alternative is much less invasive than bone replacement, and dramatically reduces the risk of infection or rejection.
Bioengineers from the University of California, San Diego, have identified a mechanism by which stem cell differentiation is regulated by the exertion of mechanical pressure. Using optical tweezers to apply mechanical force to stem cells, the researchers, led by Dr. Yingxiao Wang, observed the release of calcium ions, which are critical in the cellular communication required for stem cell differentiation. Dr. Wang’s team concluded that the forces of a stem cell’s environment, such as the tension inside the jaw, can promote the cell’s maturation into stiff tissue like bone or cartilage.