British scientists are developing a technique to mend shattered
bones and damaged cartilage using a patient's own stem cells from
blood and bone marrow, BBC reported on Monday.
Scientists from the Edinburgh University are developing a
"bioactive scaffold" to protect the stem cells and encourage them
to grow into bone or cartilage when placed in the body, hoping the
technique will be tested in patients within two years.
The scaffold consists of a fairly rigid mesh structure, coated
or impregnated with a drug that helps the stem cells take hold,
according to the scientists.
"A lot of research that has done before is working out what will
drive the stem cells down the route to become a specific cell type.
The next stage is trying to think of innovative ways to encourage
them to do that in the body," Brendon Noble, who led the research,
Noble said they would initially look at mending cartilage
injuries which do not tend to heal well or bone fractures caused by
severe trauma such as motorbike accidents.
The key to success would be to get the "recipe" right for
encouraging the stem cells to grow in what are effectively harsh
environments, Noble said.
According to the scientists, besides using stem cells from bone
marrow, they are working with the Scottish National Blood
Transfusion Service to culture bone forming cells from blood,
meaning the patient does not have to undergo surgery to harvest the
Surgeons said it could help repair trauma injuries too severe to
heal and the project at a cost of 1.4 million pounds (about
2.7million U.S. dollars could also eventually have an impact on
treating conditions such as osteoarthritis.
(Agencies via Xinhua News Agency February 19, 2008)