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Hard Science

Stem Cell Therapy Can Reverse Age-Related Osteoporosis

Six months after the injection, the osteoporotic bone had improved into a healthy, functional bone.

When there’s only one way to treat age-related osteoporosis, the search for a better and more effective way to manage it is absolutely necessary. Thanks to a new study involving stem cells, it seems that the world has finally found an answer to this debilitating condition.

There’s a lot stem cell therapy can do—including, according to this most recent study, restore bone health in people suffering from osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis 

Over 200 million people around the world suffer from osteoporosis, a condition related to ageing that causes bones to thin, lose density, and eventually lose their function. It’s responsible for 8.9 million fractures annually, including hip fractures that cause loss of mobility and, in extreme cases, death.

Now, research reveals that an injection of stem cells can reverse the effects of ageing in the bones.

In the study, the team behind the work discovered that there was a direct correlation between mice with age-related osteoporosis and low or defective MSCs (mesenchymal stem cells.) “We reasoned that if defective MSCs are responsible for osteoporosis, transplantation of healthy MSCs should be able to prevent or treat osteoporosis,” Professor William Stanford, senior author of the study, stated in the press release.

Testing

Left: Professor John Davies with Dr. Jeff Kiernan (Photo: Luke Ng). Right: After a single MSC transplant, the leg bone of this previously osteoporotic mouse shows a restoration of the normal internal structure. (Courtesy: Dr. Jeff Kiernan)

To verify their theory, they injected mice suffering from osteoporosis with MSC taken from healthy mice. Six months after the mice were injected with MSCs, the osteoprotic bone had improved into a healthy, functional bone.

“We had hoped for a general increase in bone health,” said John E. Davies, professor in the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, and a co-author of the study. “But the huge surprise was to find that the exquisite inner ‘coral-like’ architecture of the bone structure of the injected animals—which is severely compromised in osteoporosis—was restored to normal.”

With the ability to become bone cells, these MSCs can be transplanted from one person to another—regardless of whether or not the donor and recipient match, with no chance of the cells being rejected. This could soon see a better treatment…or even altogether stop the onset of osteoporosis.

This is remarkable as, currently, age-related osteoporosis is only treatable via a drug that can only maintain effectiveness for two years.

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