Imagine telling a patient suffering from age-related (type-II) osteoporosis that a single injection of stem cells could restore their normal bone structure. This week, with a publication in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, a group of researchers from the University of Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital suggest that this scenario may not be too far away.
Osteoporosis affects over 200M people worldwide and, unlike post-menopausal (type-I) osteoporosis, both women and men are equally susceptible to developing the age-related (type-II) form of this chronic disease. With age-related osteoporosis, the inner structure of the bone diminishes, leaving the bone thinner, less dense, and losing its function. The disease is responsible for an estimated 8.9 M fractures per year worldwide. Fractures of the hip—one of the most common breaks for those suffering from type-II osteoporosis—lead to a significant lack of mobility and, for some, can be deadly.
But how can an injection of stem cells reverse the ravages of age in the bones?
Professor William Stanford, senior author of the study, had in previous research demonstrated a causal effect between mice that developed age-related osteoporosis and low or defective mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in these animals.