Gene Therapy Might Someday Mend Badly Broken Bones

Extensive research has been done and experiments have been conducted on the effect of gene therapy to heal large bone breaks. The method has been tried on lab animals and has been successful. Bone grafting is now the preferred treatment to heal large breaks. This method involves surgeons using bone tissue either from another place in the body or from a donor. This repairs the bone. This method usually requires another surgery for the patient. The tissue used by surgeons is usually taken from the pelvic,thus requiring the additional surgery. It usually leaves patients with additional pain which can extend over a long period. When surgeons have to perform additional surgeries the risk for infection is there as with any surgery. If surgeons use donor bone there is a chance the donor bone won’t integrate into the patients own bone because the donor bone is dead.

A professor of surgery at Cedars-Mount Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles,Dr. Dan Gazit,developed a procedure designed to use the body’s own natural repair capabilities. A protein in bone called collegen is implanted into the gap between the two sides of a broken bone. Stem cells are attracted and gave them a structure. The stem cells develop into tissue and eventually bone. The gene therapy is the next step where researchers inject micro bubbles and genetic material to promote protein which promotes bones. An ultrasound wand is used to to get the material into the stem cells. This enabled the stem cells to to form new bone tissue.

Key Points:

  • 1A bone that sustains a simple fracture, is usually able to self-repair with time.
  • 2Bone grafting is done with a patient’s own tissue — often taken from the pelvis.
  • 3BMP gene is active for only a short time before becoming undetectable.

An experimental method that combines gene therapy, stem cells and ultrasound has healed large bone breaks in lab animals, researchers have found.

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