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Osteoporosis affects around 200 million people worldwide, most of them women. With osteoporosis, the inner bone structure begins to diminish, making the bones less dense, thin, and weakened. People with osteoporosis have a risk for fractures, and hip fracture is the most common injury for individuals with this bone condition. A new treatment may be able to reverse osteoporosis, which involves stem cell therapy.
Stem cell therapy for osteoporosis could reduce the susceptibility of fractures. In addition, it has been found to restore stem cell function, changing the mineral density and increasing cell numbers. This therapy can be carried out by use of the patient’s own stem cells, or from stem cells obtained from umbilical cord blood tissues or donated amniotic fluid.
Researchers theorize that defective mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are responsible for osteoporosis. Transplantation of healthy stem cells could prevent, treat, and/or reverse the disease. In a recent study, scientists injected osteoporotic mice with MSCs from healthy mice. The stem cells transformed (changed) into bone cells in this study, and after six months, the mice’s bone became healthy and functional.
At the Scripps Research Institute, researchers found a therapeutic approach that will help develop bone-forming cells in people with osteoporosis. The study focused on PPAR, a protein that can impact stem cells come from bone marrow. These cells differentiate into other cell types. The researchers found that partial loss of PPAR in mice could lead to increased bone formation. They designed a new compound that could repress PPAR activity. After treating human stem cells with a biological compound, the scientists noted an increase in osteoblast (bone cells) formation.
Stem cells are found to be ideal for the treatment of bone diseases. In a study from McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, researchers discovered that stem cells turn into bone cells. They found that the process of differentiation involved IFN gamma-related genes, and the bone cells could stimulate and produce IFN gamma. Both in-vitro and in-vivo results showed that IFN gamma was important in the growth process of bone.
After transplantation of MSCs, the cells result in bone mass reduction, and help with bone formation. They work by two possible mechanisms: homing to a damaged site and then changing into bone-forming cells, and/or acting in a paracrine manner by secreting growth factors that help resident cells start to repair degenerated tissue and bone. Impairment of stem cell functionality and microenvironment adds to increased osteoclast activity and decreased bone. Stem cells from bone marrow have been proven to increase pro-inflammatory regulatory factors.
In a study involving rabbits, researchers found that bone marrow-derived stem cells improved formation of bone in the osteoporotic subjects. Regarding adipose-derived stem cells, researchers have found the cells can be expanded to differentiate into bone cells. There are more stem cells per ounce in adipose tissue, and it is a good source of treatment tissue, as it is easily removed from the body using gentle liposuction. With rabbit models, scientists have found that stem cells enhance bone regeneration due to their osteogenic differentiation and worth through paracrine mechanisms and growth factors.
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Amniotic and Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Treatments
The most revolutionary regenerative medicine treatments now being offered include amniotic and umbilical stem cell treatments. These are FDA regulated and contain growth factors, hyaluronic acid, cytokines and stem cells.