estimated 7.9 million bone fractures occur annually in the United States at an
approximate cost of $70 billion. Of this number, about 10 to 20 percent do not
heal. To address this problem researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of
Medicine have combined adult stem cells and a bone-generating
hormone to correct bone fractures that do not heal.
Anna Spagnoli, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and biomedical
engineering, and a team of researchers, have used an animal study to show that
the transplantation of adult stem cells, which are combined with a
bone-regenerating hormone, can heal bone fractures.
Bone fractures that do not heal within a normal period of time are referred to
as non-union fractures. In the study, researchers used a mouse with a non-union
fracture in order to transplant adult stem cells enriched with the bone-regenerating
Mesenchymal stem cells taken from the bone marrow of
adult mice was engineered to express IGF-I, and put the stem cells into the
others non-union fracture in the tibia. Then, using computed tomography (CT) scanning;
Spagnoli found that mice treated with the stem cells enriched with IGF-1 healed
better than those treated with stem cells alone or not treated at all.
"We envision a clinical use of combined mesenchymal stem cells and IGF-1
similar to the approach employed in bone marrow transplant, in which stem cell therapy is
combined with growth factors to restore blood cells," said Spagnoli.
"I think this treatment will be feasible to start testing in patients in a
This research was presented at The Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in
Boston, Massachusetts on Sunday, June 5.