Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown in an animal study that transplantation of adult stem cells enriched with a bone-regenerating hormone can help mend bone fractures that are not healing properly.
The UNC study team led by Anna Spagnoli, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and biomedical engineering, demonstrated that stem cells manufactured with the regenerative hormone insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) become bone cells and also help the cells within broken bones repair the fracture, thereby speeding the healing.
The new findings were presented June 5, 2011 at The Endocrine Society’s 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.
A deficiency of fracture healing is a common problem affecting an estimated 600,000 people annually in North America. “This problem is even more serious in children with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, and in elderly adults with osteoporosis, because their fragile bones can easily and repeatedly break, and bone graft surgical treatment is often not successful or feasible,” Spagnoli said.
Approximately 7.9 million bone fractures occur every year in the United States alone, with an estimated cost of $70 billion. Of these, 10 to 20 percent fail to heal.
This success in an animal model of fracture non-union, Spagnoli said, “is a crucial step toward developing a stem cell-based treatment for patients with fracture non-unions.”
“We envision a clinical use of combined mesenchymal stem cells and IGF-1 similar to the approach employed in bone marrow transplant, in which stem cell therapy is combined with growth factors to restore blood cells,” she said. “I think this treatment will be feasible to start testing in patients in a few years.” IGF-I is currently approved for treatment of children with a deficiency of this hormone, causing growth failure.
Preventing frailty of aging procedures could be achieved using some combination of stem cells, muscle growth treatments (SARM steroids, myostatin inhibitors, etc…), gene therapy to maintain bone strength, muscle mass and immune system.