Belgian clinic repairs bones with new ground-breaking stem cell technique

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian medical researchers have succeeded in repairing bones using stem cells from fatty tissue, with a new technique they believe could become a benchmark for treating a range of bone disorders.

The team at the Saint Luc university clinic hospital in Brussels have treated 11 patients, eight of them children, with fractures or bone defects that their bodies could not repair, and a spin-off is seeking investors to commercialize the discovery.

Doctors have for years harvested stem cells from bone marrow at the top of the pelvis and injected them back into the body to repair bone.

The ground-breaking stem cell technique of Saint Luc's centre for tissue and cellular therapy is to remove a sugar cube sized piece of fatty tissue from the patient, a less invasive process than pushing a needle into the pelvis and with a stem cell concentration they say is some 500 times higher.

The stem cells are then isolated and used to grow bone in the laboratory. Unlike some technologies, they are also not attached to a solid and separate 'scaffold'.

"Normally you transplant only cells and you cross your fingers that it functions," the centre's coordinator Denis Dufrane told Reuters television.

His work has been published in Biomaterials journal and was presented at an annual meeting of the International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics and Science (IFATS) in New York in November.

BONE FORMATION

"It is complete bone tissue that we recreate in the bottle and therefore when we do transplants in a bone defect or a bone hole...you have a higher chance of bone formation."

The new material in a lab dish resembles more plasticine than bone, but can be molded to fill a fracture, rather like a dentist's filling in a tooth, hardening in the body.

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Belgian clinic repairs bones with new ground-breaking stem cell technique

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