At Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital and the University of Texas at Arlington, researchers are exploring whether stem cells grown from the body can be used in bone grafting procedures. This will replace more traditional bone grafting procedures that are invasive in nature. The goal is to use the body’s biological ability to heal and restore to aid in bone repair, including in the jaw.
There are multiple bone grafting methods that are meant to establish a graft source in the mouth. An oral surgeon can pull from a cadaver (allograft graft) or an animal such as a cow (xenograft graft). But an autogenous graft has always been the favored option because the surgeon is taking a piece of bone from within the patient’s body, like the hip or chin, which typically offers the best results.
Dr. Liping Tang (the bioengineering chair and professor at UT Arlington) and Dr. Joseph Borrelli (chair of orthopedics for Texas Health Arlington Memorial) are leading the research for natural stem cell growth within the body to eliminate bone graft harvesting as a method of treatment. The procedure, which has only been performed on mice, uses biodegradable polymer scaffolding material with bone morphogenetic protein, or BMP, and this combination stimulates bone growth. It is then inserted into the abdomen to attract additional stem cells. The study showed results that those stem cells harbored healthy bone growth and produced bone.
The idea is that the scaffolding material and protein combination will be created and then injected in the location where the bone needs to grow. The patient’s cell material will remain inside the body, which cuts down on surgical time and medical costs to all involved. Plus, the patient will not have to experience an additional procedure or any discomfort from graft harvesting.
Although this procedure is still undergoing additional research and testing, Dr. Tang and Dr. Borrelli hope this new method will not only decrease the risk of post-surgical complications but also reduce medical costs associated with bone grafting. It shows promise as a major medical advancement in bone grafting that will benefit both doctors and their patients.