A single injection of stem cells could one day rebuild the bones of patients with osteoporosis, according to new research reported in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.
About 200 million people are living with osteoporosis, which causes bone thinning that leads to 8.9 million fractures annually that can cause disability and even death.
The new study, by University of Toronto researchers, found that stem cells, which can divide and change to become any different type of cell, can be enlisted to help rebuild bones decimated by osteoporosis, Medical News Today
Lead researcher William Stanford, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa, said his team found that osteoporosis can result from faulty healthy mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which can become bone cells.
But in studies involving mice, the researchers found healthy MSCs can be transplanted into individuals with osteoporosis to restore healthy bone growth. After six months, which is a quarter of a mouse's life span, the team found that injecting healthy MSCs into the mice led to significant replacement of bone.
"We had hoped for a general increase in bone health. But the huge surprise was to find that the exquisite inner 'coral-like' architecture of the bone structure of the injected animals, which is severely compromised in osteoporosis, was restored to normal." Said co-researcher John E. Davies.
The researchers hope the findings could lead to a new way of treating osteoporosis, or even delaying its onset indefinitely.
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