New Stem Cell Bone Putty Heals Fractures in Days not Months

Sounding like something out of a futuristic science fiction film, researchers have created an incredible new “putty” that turbo-charges healing in fractured bones.

How it works

A team of University of Georgia (UGA) Regenerative Bioscience Center scientists worked in tandem, with veterinary scientist, Dr. John Peroni of UGA College of Veterinary Medicine to develop and test a regenerative bio-substance. [Press release]

Together the brilliant researchers produced a special protein from harvested adult stem cells responsible for the biological processes of bone generation and healing. Once they had the specialized biomass, they made it into a plastic-like gelatin that has the consistency of a paste they’ve dubbed a “fracture putty” that’s injected directly into a bone fracture.

For now the advanced research is limited to laboratory rats, but applications in zoology—treating zoo animals and injured animals in the wild—will follow. After that, refined techniques may be added to therapeutic treatments with human patients suffering fractured and broken bones.

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Military applications

How effective the process is with healing human bone fractures is what convinced the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to provide a $1.4 million grant to UGA for experiments with sheep.

Leader of the research group, Dr. Steve Stice is responsible for remarkable breakthroughs with the research he oversees concerned with “pluripotent and adult stem cells in the areas of neurogenesis, toxicology and regenerative medicine.”

According the the press release, Stice said, “Complex fractures are a major cause of amputation of limbs for U.S. military men and women. For many young soldiers, their mental health becomes a real issue when they are confined to a bed for three to six months after an injury. This discovery may allow them to be up and moving as fast as days afterward.”

While regenerative bone research has been advancing for years, it’s now reached the application stage. UGA points out that much of the earlier research was done by medical scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University and the University of Texas. Those early researchers have been incorporated into a working group to create a dynamic collaborative effort.

The latest research with sheep has shown that significant fractures can be healed in under a month. According to UGA, a “video of the healed animals at two weeks shows the rats running around and standing on their hind legs with no evidence of injury.”

The DOD is thrilled with the progress.

“Our approach is biological with the putty,” Stice is quoted as saying in the UGA release. “Other groups are looking at polymers and engineering approaches like implants and replacements which may eventually be combined with our approach. We are looking at other applications, too, using this gel, or putty, to improve spinal fusion outcomes.”