Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Researchers Invent Miracle Fracture Putty To Heal Broken Bones

8 Feb 2012After experiencing approximately 300 broken bones in my lifetime, I can honestly say that I would give ANYTHING to learn of a treatment that could heal bones quickly.

Everyone’s bones renew themselves all the time, by breaking down and building themselves up again, but due to my Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), my bones break down faster than they build up, so I’m always left with more fragile bones, than the average person.

During childhood, fractures occurred around ever 2 – 3 months, but once I reached puberty, and entered adult hood, my fractures slowed down, and almost stopped, and now it’ll be years in between fractures. This is usually the case for most people with OI, but it still doesn’t stop us thinking, worrying and wondering all the time, about the next big fracture, and when it will happen.

To be honest, I was constantly having nightmares leading up to my wedding, that I would break something right beforehand, and it would ruin everything, but I’m so thankful that nothing happened!

I always tend to get a bit panicky when everything else in my life is going along smoothly, because I just expect a break to get in the way and mess it all up, while trying to stay positive that it won’t.

For me, it’s been about five years since I last broke something, which was my leg, and it has healed crooked. I want to get it straightened, which would involve re-breaking it in about three places, and inserting a rod down the centre, with some screws and plates to hold it all together, but my doctor is reluctant to touch it, because once people with OI become older, the bones can have a harder time healing. So for now, I’m just going to live with it, besides, I’d rather a crooked leg, than a permanently broken one, any day!

Anyway, I came across an article today which has some promising results from a research project that is being performed by a group of scientists and university students, in Georgia, in the US. Their exciting findings could change the way doctors treat broken bones, forever.

They have discovered that by harvesting adult stem cells, and processing them into a type of gel that has been named ‘fracture putty’, they can heal broken bones in a matter of days in some cases, by injecting the substance into the fracture sight.

Naturally, the more severe the break, the longer the bone will take to heal, but for more complicated fractures, they could heal in a matter of weeks, the time that it currently takes for a small fracture to heal.

Retrieving the adult stem cells, could be quite unpleasant for patients, as they have to be harvested from inside your bones, from the bone marrow. So I don’t see this as a treatment that could be possible in small medical centres around the world, but rather larger hospitals, which are equipped to deal with such procedures.

So far, this treatment has only been tested on small animals, such as rats and sheep, but will soon be tested on larger animals, and if all goes well, eventually humans. The US military is helping to provide funding for the project, as they can envisage this treatment assisting soldiers injured during combat, who would normally have to face amputation for more complex fractures.

As much as I, being an animal lover, squirm at the thought of scientists in white lab coats gathering around tiny rats and helpless sheep, breaking their bones, only to repair them again, if it is successful, then maybe no animal or human will ever have to endure months of agony after a break ever again. Here's hoping!

If you would like to see the original article which contains a thorough explanation into this research project, please click here: http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/uga-discovery-uses-fracture-putty-to-repair-broken-bone-in-days/

Harvesting adult stem cells from inside a bone
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An adult stem cell


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Previous Comments

Samantha from USA-CT posted on 10 Feb 2012
I have been trying to keep up with all the research going on for OI in the US, as my daughter is type 3 severe. I heard of gene therapy(not sure if its the same as this article or not). This is a procedure where they go into the bone and extract the "bad" cells and replace with new cells. It will take hundreds of "shots" to accomplish every bone as they need to inject each bone, but if it works, its totally worth it. Last I knew was they were going to start on adult humans. That was last year or the year before. The last UP-DATE said that it could possibly be a cure for some OI types/mutations. This would be the best ever. I'm thinking that since most research studies are done over 5 or so years that we have to wait until 2016 or so for results. Just thought I would share this info. My trina has had 4 surgeries for central lines, 2 blood transfusions.....at least 100 fractures, a picc line, 4 blood infections, hearing loss in both ears, astigmatism in both eyes, mrsa , 2 rodding surgeries, and dentiogenesis imperfecta-2 teeth pulled all molars capped. She is 5yrs old. We are also going to be going into rodding surgery once again to replace the nails in her tibias with the fd rods.

Jane Hash from USA - Ohio posted on 8 Feb 2012
The herb Comfrey is also helpful in strengthening bones and speeding fracture recovery. I've been taking it for years. I know it helps because I have OI and I was in a minor auto accident last year and did not brake any bones! It was like a miracle!

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