Gene therapy as a new option for bone defects

(Medical Xpress)—Gene therapy involving modified stem cells obtained from fatty tissue and bone marrow could represent a new option for the treatment of severe orthopaedic injuries to the extremities. This treatment has been developed by Martina Hauser-Schinhan from the University Department of Orthopaedics at the MedUni Vienna during a research fellowship at the Center for Advanced Orthopedic Studies at the Harvard Medical School. The treatment could in future prevent threatened amputations or massive shortenings of bones.

The new method involves altering the body's own , obtained from fat or bone marrow, with BMP-2 genes which are known to promote bone healing. The autologous stem cells that are genetically modified with ad.BMP-2 are embedded in a fibrin gel which is applied between the two broken parts of the bone. The stem cells continuously produce BMP-2, like a power plant. The stem cells and the BMP-2 cause the bones to heal. "Until now, in cases of severe injury that we would be able to treat with this method, amputations or bone shortening surgery were often necessary," says Hauser-Schinhan.

The new has been used in in vivo trials and clinical studies are set to follow. The results so far invite the conclusion that healing occurs within a few weeks. Says Hauser-Schinhan: "Even with normal , it takes six weeks." Its use even after the removal of bony tumours, which involves taking away large portions of bone, appears to be possible according to the MedUni researcher.

Hauser-Schinhan carried out research at Harvard between April 2011 and April 2012. The local Center for Orthopedics, led by Christopher Evans, who has collaborated closely for many years with the Head of Department in Vienna Reinhard Windhager, is renowned for its work on and its use in the healing of bone defects.

Related Stories

Smart materials that get bone to heal

Nov 04, 2011

Bone tissue is very good at self-healing, but in many situations the natural healing process is not sufficient. In a dissertation at Uppsala University, Sonya Piskounova shows how functional materials that ...

Molecule dictates how stem cells travel

Jan 14, 2006

U.S. researchers have defined a molecule that dictates how blood stem cells travel to the bone marrow and establish blood and immune cell production.

Stem cells from fat may help heal bone

Jun 30, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Wounded soldiers may one day be treated with stem cells from their own fat using a method under development at UC Davis.

Stem cells could heal equine tendon injuries

Nov 01, 2012

Tendon injuries affect athletic horses at all levels. Researchers from the University of Connecticut are studying the use of stem cells in treating equine tendon injuries. Their findings were published Oct. 16 in the Journal of ...

Recommended for you

Cause of ageing remains elusive

10 hours ago

A report by Chinese researchers in the journal Nature a few months ago was a small sensation: they appeared to have found the cause for why organisms age. An international team of scientists, headed by the ...

Newly discovered bacterial defence mechanism in the lungs

12 hours ago

A new study from Karolinska Institutet presents a previously unknown immunological mechanism that protects us against bacterial infections in the lungs. The study is being published in the American Journal of Respiratory an ...

User comments