Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Stem cells restore bones damaged by osteoporosis

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A study recently published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine points the way to a new, potentially restorative treatment for age-related or type II osteoporosis. When a single dose of a certain type of stem cell, called mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), was injected into mice with the disease, long-term bone engraftment and quality bone growth resulted. As an added benefit, the cells protected existing bone from damage.

Type II osteoporosis, which affects both men and women and can lead to hip fractures, occurs when there is a decline due to aging of MSCs, the type of stem cell that forms new bone cells. This decline reduces bone mass and can cause bones to become so weak and brittle that a fall or even mild stress like coughing can cause a fracture. A stooped posture and back pain are also common symptoms.

To date more than 500 clinical trials using MSCs have been registered with clinicaltrials.gov. Some are showing significant benefit in treating bone-related conditions. However, while many researchers believe osteoporosis could benefit from MSC therapy — particularly because their depletion drives the disease’s progression — no clinical trials are currently underway or recruiting to test this hypothesis.

As a first step toward what they hope leads to clinical trials, a team of researchers led by Dr William Stanford of the Ottawa Hospital Research...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.