I just skimmed through this article and wanted to share it. Seems some researchers have figured out a way to use plasmids to change which chromosomes are functioning and which aren't to induce bone growth in the body. I suppose that this will be great news not only for injury related non-unions but also Charcot and other boney related problems. Probably also useful eventually for many other problems.

Let me know what you think.

DAve Gottlieb, DPM personal opinions only


A Bio-Patch Regrows Bone Inside the Body


Researchers from the University of Iowa have developed a remarkable new procedure for regenerating missing or damaged bone. It's called a "bio patch" -- and it works by sending bone-producing instructions directly into cells using microscopic particles embedded with DNA.

In experiments, the gene-encoding patch has already regrown bone fully enough to cover skull wounds in test animals. It has also stimulated new growth in human bone marrow stromal cells. Eventually, the patch could be used to repair birth defects involving missing bone around the head or face. It could also help dentists rebuild bone in areas which provides a concrete-like foundation for implants.

Bank Your Stem Cells For Future Use

To create the bio patch, a research team led by Satheesh Elangovan delivered bone-producing instructions to existing bone cells inside a living body, which allowed those cell to produce the required proteins for more bone production. This was accomplished by using a piece of DNA that encodes for a platelet-derived growth factor called PDGF-B. Previous research relied on repeated applications from the outside, but they proved costly, intensive, and more difficult to replicate with any kind of consistency.

"We delivered the DNA to the cells, so that the cells produce the protein and that's how the protein is generated to enhance bone regeneration," explained Aliasger Salem in a statement. "If you deliver just the protein, you have keep delivering it with continuous injections to maintain the dose. With our method, you get local, sustained expression over a prolonged period of time without having to give continued doses of protein." Salem is a professor in the College of Pharmacy and a co-corresponding author on the paper.

While performing the procedure, the researchers made a collagen scaffold in the actual shape and size of the bone defect. The patch, which was loaded with synthetically created plasmids and outfitted with the genetic instructions for building bone did the rest, achieving complete regeneration that matched the shape of what should have been there. This was followed by inserting the scaffold onto the missing area. Four weeks is usually all that it took -- growing 44-times more bone and soft tissue in the affected areas compared to just the scaffold alone.

"The delivery mechanism is the scaffold loaded with the plasmid," Salem says. "When cells migrate into the scaffold, they meet with the plasmid, they take up the plasmid, and they get the encoding to start producing PDGF-B, which enhances bone regeneration."

The researchers also note that the delivery system is nonviral, meaning that the plasmid is not likely to cause an undesired immune response, and that it's easier to mass produce, which lowers the cost.

Read the entire study at Biomaterials.

  • Comments (6)
  • WG, they [and we all know who 'they' are] are finding quiescent stem cells all over the human body. The need to bank ones' one stem cells [it's being done already by the wealthy at their childs' birth] will quickly be unnecessary.

    Dave Gottlieb, DPM personal opinions only

  • That is an excellent article and the website you linked provides lots of interesting data, DG. 




    However, I wonder how much it would cost for one to have their stem cells, marrow (or brain? as website & article references, I'm confused now) banked.  On that, I need to look back into that.

    I have a direct line on the leading amniotic matrix healing company's chief, as well as a stem cell co.'s POC; I must contact these guys and query them about the cost of banking stem cells.  I have to believe that they would the inside track on the cost of doing such a thing.  I believe that it could be most advantageous to do just that.

    However, it is an interesting sub-topic to the overall subject, is it not?  For, when we consider the subject of Biomaterials and their origin, there is cost, the issues of banking, their security, utilization, replication, who maintains control over these cells; who does the oversight and due diligence, oversees the correct growth and employment of them, etc., etc.  Now, you can see that we get into the ethical (and legal) debate(s) of many, many things. 

    All the while, docs are anxiously waiting to treat and cure their patients; someone has to pay for these modalities (hopefully less expensive than other long-term therapies, lost work, misery, etc.); and the patients are too busy to notice that future medicine is tied up with all these issues; all the while, the judicial-legal system is sucking wind trying to play catch up with these future medicine and technological laboratory break-throughs.

    For one thing, whom gets banked and whom does not?  Remember the movie, "GATTACA?"  In it, one is only selected for the special flight to go where ever, I think it was to help colonize another planet or something, but only if you were genetically perfect and had lived a perfectly clean and healthy life.

    In any event, the day may come, and of course, this would be the ideal (i.e., in a perfect world, a scenario only possible in Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future [e.g., Star Trek]): everyone's Stem Cells would be banked at the very time of their birth.

    Anyone else care to chime in on this front?  I would love to hear their thoughts. 

    For all of the presentation of Biomaterials, Bioscience, and the "new frontiers" of medicine and healing, we do NOT seem to discuss any of the ethics of it all... and I am NOT saying that that ANY one "take" a position or stance on any of it.  But we could merely present the sides of the issue, the dimensions and parameters of the patient care aspects, and so forth, that's all.



  • I've been saying for years that the future of medicine is in stem cells. As long as researchers can get a grasp on how to differentiate the cells and how to manage the control can be replaced by fresh new stem cells which make insulin. This could be a potential cure for diabetes.

    Think about diabetics, the insulin producing cells can be replaced by fresh new stem cells which make insulin. This could be a cure for type 1 diabetes. We already use stem cell technology with a living skin substitutes, and we also use stem cells when we mix bone marrow aspirate with bone grafts of different sources.

    One of my concerns is though if stem cells are used, and the proliferation is not able to be stopped working controlled. I could easily envision a nightmare of a case where the use of stem cells could, theoretically, lead to an induced cancer.
  • possibilities may be endless, but it seems the science is in its infancy. What, I gathered from the blurb was that they are growing bone...which in itself is wonderful achievement. If regulation of bone metabolism to evoke change in the behavior of the bone along the lines of a charcot that would be intriguing but It doesn't sound so easy to accomplish.
    Charcot feet seem to be an elusive mystery in our field. Yes, people do these reconstructions but the why it happens? how to prevent or stop....is still such a mystery.
    I think someone should create a Charcot Foot Center of Excellence. Then, the feet and people attached to them could be studied better.
  • Actually, I could envision this being used for a host of problems, diseases and conditions. The ability to selectively regulate the protein synthesis of tissues could / should ultimately allow to control and direct bone growth [charcot treatment - proper regulation of bone metabolism; non and delayed unions treated] and soft tissue growth and differentiation [wounds, tendon repair, cartilage, etc].

    Who knows, this may ultimately allow for changes in mature bone shape and structure so that more proper function can occur, sort of a biologic biomechanical control.

    My engineering mind goes explodes with possibilities.

    Dave Gottlieb, DPM personal opinions only

  • Dave - interesting stuff. You mentioned you thought this would possibly be good in Charcot feet. How? I am not sure I understand how this could potentially help a charcot foot out....please elaborate as I am missing your thought...