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Medicine Science

Facial Bones Grown From Fat-Derived Stem Cells 106

TheClockworkSoul sends in an article up at Scientific American, from which we quote: "Stem cells so far have been used to mend tissues ranging from damaged hearts to collapsed tracheas. Now the multifaceted cells have proved successful at regrowing bone in humans. In the first procedure of its kind, doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center replaced a 14-year-old boy's missing cheekbones — in part by repurposing stem cells from his own body. To create the new bones, which have become part of the patient's own skull structure and have remained securely in place for four and a half months, the medical team used a combination of fat-derived stem cells, donated bone scaffolds, growth factors, and bone-coating tissue. The technique, should it be approved for widespread use, could benefit some seven million people in the US who need more bone — everyone from cancer patients to injured war veterans."
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Facial Bones Grown From Fat-Derived Stem Cells

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  • Cool (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Sylos ( 1073710 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @10:56PM (#29781607)
    This is really cool. I can't wait 'till stemcells can finally regrow whole bodies! Imagine! Immortality at our doorstep!
  • Re:Is there? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skine ( 1524819 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:17PM (#29781689)

    If I've read the literature right, embryonic stem cells are, in general, readily available and easily manufactured. Also, they are the best at forming to any cell type we would want.

    In contrast, adult stem cells are relatively specialized, meaning that they won't make just anything, but things that are somewhat similar.

    That is to say that adult stem cells have been immensely helpful, but we think that embryonic stem cells may be better.

  • Re:Is there? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SUB7IME ( 604466 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:19PM (#29781701)

    The question of whether we can do "just about everything with adult stem cells" is still quite open.

    Could we get more funding dedicated to stem cells if we required that it all be used for adult stem cell research? Yes. Would that accelerate the overall pace of advances in stem cell research? Quite possibly not. There are two different games right now: the first is to see what we can do with stem cells (this is largely being done with embryonic stem cells). The second is to see how we can make adult stem cells behave like embryonic stem cells. The second game feeds back into the first. Indeed, if we get good enough at the second, we will no longer need embryonic stem cells, and we can then focus all of our energies on seeing what we can do.

    If and when we get really good at extracting or reprogramming adult cells to behave like embryonic stem cells, we will also have the side benefit of not having to worry about alloimunity (tissue rejection). For example, in the particular case being discussed here, the fear of alloimmunity was probably a key reason for making the effort to use the patient's own cells. In the meantime, from a scientific perspective, it is prudent to continue to invest in both embryonic stem cells and in research towards no longer needing embryos from which to harvest these cells.

  • Bone tissue vs bones (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dirkdodgers ( 1642627 ) on Saturday October 17, 2009 @11:52PM (#29781803)

    The surgeons had to build the shape and structure of the desired bone, the scaffolding, from cadaver femur bone tissue.

    From the popular media I've been lead to believe the promise of stem cells the ability to grow specific bones, tissues, and organs, using information encoded in the cells, rather than just growing the generic tissue and shaping it artificially.

    What needs to happen for us to go from growing cheek bone tissue around scaffolding, to implanting stem cells and instructing them to build cheek bones?

  • by jnelson4765 ( 845296 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @12:10AM (#29781865) Journal
    This technique will be a great boon for people with a massive amount of dental damage - where the jaw has been eaten away from disease, or injury has made it impossible to even use dentures. It'll likely be expensive for a long time, but for people who are facing a life of eating through a straw, and having massive facial deformities, this would be a huge change in their lives.
  • Re:Cool (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @12:13AM (#29781889)

    That's better than a frail body with "a brain that is slowly losing function" ? Really?

  • Re:Cool (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:11AM (#29782233) Journal

    And imagine those brains that become "inelastic" and slower to learn. Imagine having a body that is immortal, but a brain that is slowly losing function.

    Being 25 years old until I die of stupidity/old-age at 90? (Maybe I burned my house down? =P )

    Sign me up!

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