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Stem cell treatment for bone loss

Italian team regenerates bone damaged by gum disease

22 June, 18:03
Stem cell treatment for bone loss (ANSA) - Milan, June 22 - People afflicted with severe gum disease look set to benefit from a new technique that regenerates the damaged bone using stem cells, the scientist leading the research announced on Tuesday. A ten-year study by a team at the Odontology Clinic of Milan University and San Gerardo di Monza Hospital has produced results that could transform the treatment of periodontal disease, said the clinic's director, Marco Baldoni. "Various studies on animals and in the laboratory have demonstrated that bone marrow stem cells, if appropriately treated and properly cultivated on a support structure, are able to create new bone tissue," said Baldoni. "Our idea has been to exploit that result to regenerate the bone commonly lost in individuals suffering from periodontal disease". Periodontitis, which is caused by severe bacterial infection, results in the recession of the gums and the destruction of gum and bone tissue. Currently, grafting fresh bone from other parts of the body onto the damaged area is one of the main treatments for bone loss but this has varying levels of success. Following successful experiments on animals, the Italian research team shifted their focus to human subjects. The first step involved removing a small quantity of bone marrow from the affected individuals and then isolating the adult stem cells contained in the marrow. These were cultivated on a specially designed collagen support structure in the laboratory. In the final stage, the patient was given a local anesthesia and the stem cells were injected into the affected areas. In the space of a few months, the stem cells had entirely regenerated the bone lost through disease. "At the same time, we were also able to treat serious deficiencies arising from tooth loss by using much larger rigid support structures," said Baldoni.

"This meant we were able to avoid the need to carry out additional surgery to remove bone from the hip or other parts of the body". The surgery has so far been carried out on seven individuals and in every case has proven successful. "In fact, the preliminary results indicate that the level of bone regeneration is even greater than those obtained with traditional methods," added the scientist.

Baldoni maintains that conventional treatments will continue to play a key role in treating periodontal disease but hopes that these will eventually be flanked by stem cell treatment. "The aim is to develop a treatment that is ever less invasive and available for an ever widening circle of patients," he concluded.

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