British Scientists Use Patients’ Own Adult Stem Cells to Help Avoid Hip Replacement

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Scientists Use Patients’ Own Adult Stem Cells to Help Avoid Hip Replacement

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 1
, 2009

London, England ( — British scientists have pioneered a breakthrough technique involving adult stem cell research to help patients who may otherwise need a hip replacement. The new technique, which involves the use of a patient’s own stem cells, shows adult cells continue to be more promising them embryonic ones.

Doctors in Southampton are relying on a patient’s stem cells to rejuvenate dead hip bones. They are using purified cells from bone marrow extracted from the back of the pelvis.

Patients involved in the breakthrough therapy are hailing the results, saying they are able to walk again without pain and without the need for hip replacement surgery.

Doctors at Spire hospital told the London Telegraph newspaper that six patients were involved in the trials and five of the six patients met with success after the adult stem cell transplants.

The stem cells used in the process are mixed with “cleaned, ground-up” bone from another patient after a hip replacement operation. The mixture of stem cells and bone is used to fill in the cavities in the patient’s bones in the hip area.

Carl Millard, told the newspaper that, following the use of the adult stem cells, he can walk normally and without pain.

"I feel great," he said. "If this can prevent people having to have a hip replacement, I think it is wonderful."

Without the adult stem cell therapy, Millar’s bone would have collapsed and he would have required a hip replacement surgery to install an artificial joint.

Prof Richard Oreffo, of Southampton University, says the next step in the research is to replace the donated bone with an artificial chemical compound that will help the stem cells grow. He explained to Sky News that adult stem cell technology can be used to repair human skeletal tissue and stem cells used chemical signals to attract blood vessels.
"Bone is a living vibrant tissue. These stem cells generate new tissue and drive new blood vessel formation to bring in nutrients," he said. "Just as people need cornflakes and sugar in the morning, so cells need nutrients to grow and survive – and that is what is so important here."

With hundreds of thousands of hip and knee replacement surgeries taking place every year, the research could prove helpful for many patients.

While adult stem cells are helping patients now, embryonic stem cells have never been tried on humans because of significant problems in animal research.

The problems include tumor growth and immune system rejection issues.

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