Skip to comments.Surgeons Hail Bone Stem Cell Breakthrough
Posted on 05/10/2007 6:33:54 PM PDT by Coleus
Surgeons are using stem cells to fix broken bones that won't mend on their own, Sky News has learned. Patients who faced a life of disability or even an amputation because of serious fractures have been able to walk once more. Fifteen patients have so-far been treated in a ground-breaking clinical trial at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry. Assessments of the first 10 patients show that 8 have been successfully healed. They are able to drive and return to work. Previous attempts to rejoin the bones using metal pins and plates had all failed. Consultant surgeon Professor James Richardson said: "Things have worked out quite well. A few patients have needed other procedures, refixation for instance, but the important thing is they're healing." Surgeons collect the stem cells in a sample of bone marrow, usually from the patient's pelvis. They are purified and then multiplied in a sterile laboratory. Three weeks later surgeons expose the broken bone and place the cells around the fracture.
Over a period of months the bone becomes as strong as it ever was. Sarah Humphreys was one of the first patients to be treated with the cells. She is now able to walk unaided. She said: "I'm absolutely fine, the leg doesn't give me any problems at all apart from a bit of residual pain if I've been for a long walk, or been a bit more active than I would have been, but not to the extremes it was. "I'm basically doing everything I was prior to the accident." Surgeons hope to treat 40 patients in the clinical trial. Because they are treated with their own cells, there is no chance of them being rejected by their immune systems. They are unsure exactly how the stem cell transplants work. The cells may turn into bone themselves to seal the gap. Or they secrete chemicals called growth factures that draw in stem cells from elsewhere and kick-start the healing process.
Elsewhere in Britain surgeons are using stem cells to repair damage from heart attacks and to fix problems in the eye's cornea. These are experimental treatments for now. But surgeons say the results so far are so promising that stem cells are likely to be widely used on the NHS in a matter of years.
Cool - using the patient’s own bone marrow!
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