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Boosting Bone Repair

Matrix from stem cells provides scaffold that boosts bone repair

16 July 2020

Boosting Bone Repair

Many broken bones can be mended with a cast, or pins, and with plenty of time and care. But, occasionally breaks can be so severe that help is needed in the form of a bone graft – either from the patient’s own bone (autograft), or from small pieces of cadaver bone (allograft). Neither is ideal, however, with autografts requiring the patient to undergo additional surgery, and cadaver material tending to be less potent than fresh bone. Scientists may soon have a third option, however, thanks to mesenchymal stem cells – a sort of stem cell found in bone. These cells, which can be grown almost indefinitely in culture, produce an extracellular matrix material (pictured) that acts as a scaffold for new bone. The matrix is rich in factors that promote growth of bone and blood vessels – necessary for bone survival – and was shown to boost bone repair significantly in animals.

Written by Ruth Williams

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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