Breaking a bone is usually not a big deal when you’re young or middle-aged, as it’ll heal quickly and without complication. For seniors, however, this isn’t the case, as every single accident leading to broken bones can spell permanent disability, complications, or death. However, advances in modern medicine may prevent the elderly from facing such a fate. There is a new experimental method that combines gene therapy, stem cells, and ultrasound to heal large broken bones.
Currently, the preferred method for repairing large broken bones is grafting. This is a procedure where a surgeon takes bone tissue from elsewhere in the body and uses it to repair the damaged bone. While simple fractures usually self-repair with the aid of a cast, larger fractures often leave large gaps in the bone.
This type of procedure often leaves patients in prolonged pain with added risk of infection. Even donor tissue poses an issue, as it sometimes fails to integrate into the patient’s own bone to repair the damage.
These combined issues have led the researchers to develop a new form of treatment. Despite it being far off from being coming to a reality, preliminary animal studies have been successful.
The procedure involves implanting collagen into the gap found at the fracture site. The collagen then attracts the bone’s inherent stem cells and gives them a bone structure they can settle into. These stem cells are immature cells that eventually mature to become cells bone cells. Once this process occurs, the researchers use gene therapy by injecting a bone-promoting mixture called BMP, which contains genetic material. Next, the use of an ultrasound wand helps promote the stem cells membranes to allow DNA fragments into them, forming new bone tissue.
This procedure has successfully healed fractured bones in all lab animal tests but does not come without some side effects. This commonly includes infections and excess bone growth.
While this treatment appears to hold a lot of merits, it still has a long way to go before human trials can begin. However, the researchers believe they are on the right track.