Researchers from the University of Toronto and the Ottawa Hospital report that results from their experimental work with mice suggest that stem cell therapy may represent a promising treatment avenue for age-related osteoporosis (type II). Previous research had demonstrated that mice that developed type II osteoporosis also had low or defective mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Study author William Stanford, PhD, commented, "We reasoned that if defective MSCs are responsible for osteoporosis, transplantation of healthy MSCs should be able to prevent or treat osteoporosis." This hypothesis was tested by injecting osteoporotic mice with MSCs from healthy mice. The research team found that 6 months postinjection, the osteoporotic bone had been replaced with healthy, functional bone. The findings are reported in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.
Like other stem cell types, MSCs are capable of dividing and changing into other cell types in the body. Additionally, MSCs can be transplanted without the need for matching to forestall rejection, making them especially attractive in the development of human therapies. Unlike postmenopausal (type I) osteoporosis, type II affects men and women with equal frequency. The resultant bone damage is a leading cause of hip fracture. The only current therapy for type II osteoporosis is a medication whose effectiveness is limited to 2 years. According to study coauthor John E. Davies, PhD, DSc, the observed restoration of the coral-like inner structure of bone in the injected mice was a “huge surprise”. Ancillary trials are underway to study the outcomes of MSC injection in human patients.
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The journal abstract may be read here.