Patient gets new jaw cultivated from own stem cells

2008-02-01 18:51:52 Xinhua English

BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Scientists in Finland make breakthrough in treating severe tissue damage by replacing a 65-year-old patient's upper jaw with a bone transplant cultivated from stem cells isolated from his own fatty tissue and grown inside his abdomen, media reported Saturday.

The patient's upper jaw was previously removed due to a benign tumor and he was unable to eat or speak without the use of a removable prosthesis.

Researchers isolated stem cells from the patient's fat and grew them for two weeks in a specially formulated nutritious soup that included the patient's own blood serum.

In this case they identified and pulled out cells called mesenchymal stem cells -- immature cells than can give rise to bone, muscle or blood vessels.

When they had enough cells to work with, they attached them to a scaffold made out of a calcium phosphate biomaterial and then put it inside the patient's abdomen to grow for nine months. The cells turned into a variety of tissues and even produced blood vessels.

"There have been a couple of similar-sounding procedures before, but these didn't use the patient's own stem cells that were first cultured and expanded in laboratory and differentiated into bone tissue," said Riitta Suuronen of the Regea Institute of Regenerative Medicine, part of the University of Tampere, Finland.

She said the patient was recovering more quickly than he would have if he had received a bone graft from his leg.

"From the outside nobody would be able to tell he has been through such a procedure," she said.

(Agencies)