Do you, or someone in your family, suffer from fragile bones? Fret not because scientific findings from mice experiments conducted by University College London researchers point to possibly counteracting bone weakening through human amniotic mesenchymal stem cells.
Years ago, findings on stem cell therapy that can aid in addressing genetic diseases in babies astounded the world. Today, scientists have uncovered how stem cells from the fluid that protects a baby in the womb (left over from screening tests) may be the key to restoring bone loss.
Among those who stand to benefit from the research are babies, seniors, and even astronauts whose bones have become fragile from space travel. The study, published in Scientific Reports, used amniotic fluid in a treatment tested on mice.
Stored amniotic stem cells collected from pregnant women were injected into mice with brittle bone disease or osteogenesis imperfecta. That is a genetic disorder characterized by bones that break easily, which can kill babies within weeks following birth.
The outcome of the treatment: 79 percent fewer fractures in mice with the brittle bone disease. The results sparked hope of being replicated in humans, and have spurred plans for clinical trials.
Bone is constantly being remade with cells termed osteoclasts that break down old bone and osteoblasts that make new bones. Osteoporosis, brittle bone disease, and astronauts fragile bones were all characterized by osteoblasts turning “lazy.”
Dr. Pascale Guillot, the study leader, saw that the treatment did not result in new bone formation, but instead helped to fortify existing bone tissue. In other words, the stem cells seem to have worked by releasing growth factors that stimulated the mouse’s own bone cells to kick into high gear and help build stronger bones.
Significance of the Study
Brittle bone disease is reported to affect up to 50,000 people in the U.S. The U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information roughly 1.5 million individuals each year suffer a fracture due to bone disease.
Brittle bones or osteoporosis places a huge burden on sufferers (particularly those who have advanced in years) in many other parts of the world, affecting their quality of life. In many instances, osteoporosis had been diagnosed following a fracture, often resulting in pain, disability, and in certain instances, mortality.
Improvements in therapeutic interventions and medical breakthroughs, like the stem cell therapy uncovered by Dr. Guillot and her team, are therefore heartening. The findings may find use from cradle to the twilight years, or for babies with the brittle bone disease to the elderly with osteoporosis.