Scientists from the University of Georgia Regenerative Bioscience Center used adult stem cells to produce a protein involved in bone healing and generation. They then incorporated them into a gel, combining the healing properties into something they labelled ‘fracture putty.’
Working with Dr John Peroni from the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine the team used a stabilising device and inserted putty into fractures in rats. Video of the healed animals at two weeks shows the rats running around and standing on their hind legs with no evidence of injury. The RBC researchers are testing the material in pigs and sheep, too.
The team said they aren’t the only group working on a faster fix for broken bones.
‘Our approach is biological with the putty,’ Dr Stice said. ‘Other groups are looking at polymers and engineering approaches like implants and replacements which may eventually be combined with our approach. We are looking at other applications, too, using this gel, or putty, to improve spinal fusion outcomes.’
Areas to think about:
- Are there any ethical implications to this research? In particular, the use of stem cells, and animal experimentation. If you were in charge of approving this sort of research, how would you go about trying to decide whether it should proceed?
- The research is currently being funded by the US Department of Defense; how do you feel about medical research being funded from military budgets?