Human stem cells may aid diabetic bone healing

Researchers presenting at the European Congress of Endocrinology in Dublin (Ireland) have reported that the addition of bone-marrow derived human stem cells to broken diabetic bone augments the repair process, resulting in stronger newly formed bone. This research could result in new treatments for broken bones.

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May 28, 2015
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Compared to the bones of non-diabetic people, diabetic bones are more fragile and fractures take longer to heal. In addition, diabetic people sustain fractures from falls more often than non-diabetic people due to impaired vision and reduced foot sensitivity.

The team of scientists, from the National University of Galway (Ireland), aimed to utilize the reparative properties of human stem cells to enhance fracture repair in diabetic patients.

In the laboratory, the team added bone marrow stem cells from a non-diabetic human donor to a bone fracture. Not only did they conclude that the addition of stem cells increased the efficiency of the healing process, but the bones healed with stem cells were found to be significantly stronger than the control group.

Cynthia Coleman (National University of Galway) explained the significance of the work: "this basic science study allows us to better understand the role of stem cells in fracture repair and potential use in treating diabetic patients."

The group also developed a sensitive test to detect the number and location of stem cells, post-administration. In using this test the team gathered evidence that the stem cells do not integrate permanently into the host tissue, but supply signals that stimulate the host’s cells to heal the fracture more efficiently.

Further investigation is warranted before this technology is translated into the clinic. "Stem cells represent an exciting potential for improving the treatment and lessening the pain and discomfort of diabetic people who break bones,” concluded Coleman.

– Written by Daphne Boulicault

Source: The European Society of Endocrinology press release: www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=152792&CultureCode=en

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