In A Breakthrough, Bone Regrown From Fat, Muscle Cells
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28 June 2010
In what is being claimed as a major breakthrough, scientists have regrown bone and cartilage from fat cells and muscle tissue taken from a patient and then implanting them at the site of the injury.
An international team, led by Harvard Medical School, has achieved the feat of converting muscle and fat cells into cartilage and then bone in rodents by using a special form of gene therapy. Tests in the rodents showed that the implanted muscle and fat rapidly caused a bridge to form between broken bones within days. The bones were found to have returned to full strength within eight weeks of the injury.
It can typically take broken bones in humans several months to heal, according to the scientists, who said that the new technology could dramatically speed up the time it takes to heal knee injuries, the Daily Telegraph reported.
"Further development of these methods should provide ways to heal bone and cartilage more expeditiously, and at lower cost, that is presently possible." Chris Evans, who led the team, said.
"Those receiving gene–activated muscle underwent rapid healing, with evidence of bridging as early as 10 days after implantation and restoration of full strength by eight weeks," Evans added.
The gene therapy technique takes advantage of a defect that is found in patients suffering from an extremely rare disease, known as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, which causes the bone to form in the patients’ muscles.
These patients carry a variation of a gene that codes for a molecule called bone morphogenetic protein.