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Stem cells mend broken bones?

18th February 2008

A team working at Edinburgh University on a £1.4m project have said they are looking at a way of mending broken bones by employing stem cells.

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The scientists are working on a "bioactive scaffold" which will shield the stem cells and could help them to develop into bones or cartilage. A mesh system which has a coating of drugs allow the stem cells to grow from the scaffold.

The team want the new techniques to undergo testing within two years. They use cells from blood and bone marrow.

Dr Brendon Noble, from the university's MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine stated that they would start by investigating cartilage damage and bone fractures.

He said that the right treatment would be found when they could make stem cells grow in what is a difficult atmosphere.

"A lot of research that has gone before is working out what will drive them 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," he added.

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service is assisting the scientists in order "to culture bone forming cells from blood."

Dr Noble said that 50% of the population would need to have orthopaedic surgery at some stage of their lives. He added that as the population aged this type of surgery would become more necessary and more costly.

 

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