Matrix from stem cells provides scaffold that boosts 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.
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