Imagine an Emergency Room in the future. Imagine you with a badly broken bone. A break so bad that the doctors are contemplating surgery. Now imagine these same doctors taking blood an bone marrow samples from you to separate the platelets and stem cells to inject into the break for it will heal it faster.
That is the new therapy developed at Hadassah University Medical Center by Prof. Meir Liebergall and Prof. Eithan Galun.
A team at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Medical Center has managed for the first time in the world to separate platelets and adult stem cells from the blood and bone marrow of patients with fractures and inject them - causing the bones to meld in a quarter to third of the time it usually takes to repair bones, and repairing some breaks that without the therapy would fail to heal at all.All that yelling and screaming about embryonic stem cells and it seems that adult stem cells work just as well, perhaps even better.
Prof. Meir Liebergall, chairman of the orthopedics department on the Ein Kerem campus, gene therapy expert Prof. Eithan Galun and colleagues worked for years on the technique, which he said involves a "breakthrough in concept and overcomes major scientific and logistical problems."
All seven of those who received the experimental cell-based therapy have seen the broken tibias in their legs heal, even though the fractured bone in at least one control group patient who received only conventional treatment of screws or bone grafts failed to meld. Instead of taking six to nine months to heal, the fractures treated with adult stem cells and platelets healed in two months.
Liebergall told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the experiment was conducted in patients aged 18 to 60, with most of them toward the younger side of the range; all of them broke their leg bones in sports activities or accidents. He said the technique is most suited for high-impact fractures rather than broken hips in osteoporosis patients, whose fractures usually meld after surgery. Fractured bones do not heal easily in some patients when the anatomical structure of the fracture area is problematic or when there is a relative lack of muscle and ligament.
Under regional or general anesthesia, the patient undergoes a short procedure to remove 50 milliliters of mesenchymal bone marrow cells and 100 milliliters of blood from the hip area, which is often done for bone-marrow transplants on certain cancer patients. Adult mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into a variety of cell types.
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This breakthrough has been 10 years in the planning, with a generous grant from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. A grant that has run out, but hopefully will be renewed.
Millions of people each year break a bone or two. This gives them hope of a faster recovery.