Proteins from Stem Cells Alone Can Lead to Bone Tissue Regeneration


Good news to all those people out there who have gone through a major limb trauma! Scientists from Gladstone Institutes have discovered a new way to regenerate bone tissue using the protein signals produced by stem cells. This means the risk of tumor formation that accompanies the current method i.e. the stem cell transplant is greatly reduced. Also, this novel method has the potential to become a sustainable source of fresh bone tissues.

This is the first ever study where the scientists have extracted bone-producing growth factors from stem cells and demonstrated that these proteins alone can give rise to new bone tissues. Also, the amount of bone created through this method is almost equal and effective to the amount produced in the current standard treatments.

“This proof-of-principle work establishes a novel bone formation therapy that exploits the regenerative potential of stem cells,” says senior author Todd McDevitt, PhD, a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes. “With this technique, we can produce new tissue that is completely stem cell-derived and that performs similarly with the gold standard in the field.”

Bone morphogenetic protein 4. Credit: Wikipedia
Bone morphogenetic protein 4. Credit: Wikipedia

To achieve this feat, the researchers first treated the stem cells with a chemical which coaxed the cells to grow into early bone cells. Then they mined the essential proteins like bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) that trigger new tissue regeneration in the cells. Once extracted, they injected these proteins into mouse muscle tissue that facilitated new bone growth.

The reason why this method tops over the current standard method is that the latter requires grinding of old bones to extract proteins and growth factors to stimulate new bone growth. The old bones come from cadavers which can be highly variable in terms of tissue quality and the signals they produce. Also, due to scarce organ donations, the availability of cadaver tissues is often limited.

“These limitations motivate the need for more consistent and reproducible source material for tissue regeneration,” says Dr. McDevitt, who conducted the research while he was a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “As a renewable resource that is both scalable and consistent in manufacturing, pluripotent stem cells are an ideal solution.”

To access the original paper, click here.