Stem cell therapies to heal broken bones and damaged joints

Stem cell therapies to heal broken bones and damaged joints

Pioneering work that could see stem cell therapies used in the future to treat sports injuries, broken bones, damaged joints and osteoarthritis will come under the spotlight next week.

A University of Aberdeen clinician scientist who is conducting groundbreaking research into this fast developing field will give an insight to his work on Monday at the last in a series of prestigious public talks.

Professor Cosimo De Bari will also discuss how far we are from routine stem cell use in the clinic at the evening lecture Stem Cell Therapies for Musculoskeletal Applications: From Bench to Bedside.

The Professor, who is a Fellow of the Medical Research Council, will give an insight into his studies which are exploring several approaches of stem cell research to develop novel treatments for musculoskeletal repair.

One area is investigating the use of stem cells taken from the body and then manipulated in the lab to engineer spare parts of the skeleton, for example bone or cartilage.

While this is not happening clinically in Aberdeen yet, this could, in the future, see stem cells taken from a patient with injuries of skeletal tissues such as bone, and then grown in a lab and returned to the body to help it to heal.

Another area of Professor De Bari's work involves harnessing the power of stem cells directly in their tissues without the need to remove them from the body.

This cutting-edge work could pave the way for new drugs which could prompt stem cells found in joint tissues to take action and begin the healing process. In years to come this could prove invaluable to people with sports injuries to their joints or with joint damage due to arthritis.

The Professor of Translational Medicine, who is also a Consultant Rheumatologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, will also give an insight into his pioneering research which is measuring the potency of stem cells to establish how many or how little could be used to repair damaged skeletal tissues.

This strategy will lead to the generation of consistent stem cell products with known potency for the repair or regeneration of damaged skeletal tissues such as bone.

Professor De Bari will address the scientific issues confronting researchers using stem cells grown in the lab and the barriers that would have to be overcome if they are to become a routine therapy.

He said: "Regenerative medicine is a new and exciting field of medicine that could completely revolutionise the way we treat patients with injuries such as broken bones, sports injuries and osteoarthritis, a very common degenerative joint disease.

"This field of medicine fits exactly with changes in our lifestyles and with our ageing population.

"Elderly people are now far more active than they used to be years ago. Many people in their 60s and 70s want to be out running marathons and keeping active.

"If we can continue to develop stem cell research and regenerative medicine then we can provide therapies that allow people to lead the lifestyle they would like to lead despite injuries they may suffer.

"A prosthetic joint is fine for patients who do not want a challenging life, but if they want an active life then stem cells could provide the answer."

Professor De Bari's inaugural lecture is open to the public and takes place on Monday November 24 at 6pm at the Auditorium in the University's Polwarth Building at Foresterhill. To book your free place email href="mailto:events@abdn.ac.uk">events@abdn.ac.uk</a> or call 01224 273874.

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