Belgian scientists repair bones with new stem cell technique

A piece of a three-dimensional bone structure obtained from the own adipose stem cells of a patient is seen at Brussels' Saint Luc Hospital January 14, 2014. 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. REUTERS

BRUSSELS -- 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 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.

Belgian Professor Denis Defrane, coordinator of the centre of tissue and cellular therapy of Brussels' Saint Luc Hospital, shows how a hole in the tibia of a patient suffering from a disease was treated on an x-ray, in Belgium January 14, 2014.

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Belgian scientists repair bones with new stem cell technique

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