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HomeHealth articlesminimally invasiveHow Does Cell Therapy Help in Repairing Injured Bones and Tendons?

Mining Cell Therapy to Repair Injured Bones and Tendons

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Recent studies have shown that stem cell therapy can be used in healing bone and tendon injuries and this article attempts to provide more information.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Anuj Gupta

Published At March 30, 2023
Reviewed AtMarch 30, 2023

Introduction.

Cell therapy denotes the usage of human cells to repair or replace damaged tissues. With newer technologies and innovations, it has been found that there are different types of cells that can be used in the treatment of various diseases and conditions. There is much ongoing research about the different cell types and their potential uses and applications in treating diseases. Some of the applications of cell therapies include:

  • Regenerative Medicine - To regenerate damaged or diseased tissues and organs like the heart, liver, and lungs.

  • Autoimmune Diseases - Autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis are treated using cell therapy.

  • Cancer Treatment - Cell therapy can be used to treat cancer by boosting the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells.

  • Neurological Disorders - Neurological disorders like spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer's disease can be treated using cell therapy.

  • Cardiovascular Diseases - Cardiovascular diseasesare also treated using cell therapy by promoting the growth of new blood vessels and repairing damaged heart tissues.

How Does Cell Therapy Help in Repairing Injured Bones and Tendons?

Cell therapy can help repair injured bones and tendons by using cells that can differentiate into bone or tendon cells and promote tissue regeneration. Stem cells used in cell therapy have the ability to self-regenerate, differentiate into different types of cells, and initiate a repair mechanism. Cell therapy is becoming a common treatment option for various bone and tendon injuries.

Tissue regeneration and improved healing are goals of using cell therapy to repair bones and tendons.

  • Bone Fractures: Mesenchymal cells have been used to treat bone fractures by promoting the growth of new bone tissue. Mesenchymal cells have the capacity to differentiate into osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) and promote the formation of new bone tissue at the site of fracture.

  • Tendon Injuries: Tendon injuries like rotator cuff tears and Achilles tendon ruptures are treated using cell therapy. Tenocytes are cells that produce and maintain tendon tissue. Mesenchymal cells also have the capacity to differentiate into tenocytes helping in the formation of new tendon tissue. Tendon stem/progenitor cells are also used to repair tendon injuries.

  • Cartilage Injuries: Mesenchymal cells have also been used to treat cartilage injuries like osteoarthritis. MSCs can differentiate into chondrocytes, which are cells that form cartilage tissue and promote its formation.

What Are the Types of Cells Used in Cell Therapy for Bones and Tendons?

Stem cells are derived from numerous sources and can be of different types like embryonic stem cells, fetal stem cells, adult stem cells, and umbilical cord stem cells. Some of the cell types used in repairing bones and tendons include:

  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs): Mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to differentiate into multiple cell types including bone and tendon cells. They can be obtained from various tissues like synovium, bone marrow, periosteum, adipose tissue, umbilical cord, etc. Bone marrow mesenchymal cells(BMSCs) can be obtained from the sternum, iliac crest, or tibial tubercle.

  • Tendon Stem Progenitor Cells: These cells are harvested from waste tendon tissue during surgeries. These cells are also found in the patella tendon, hamstring, or Achilles.

  • Platelet-Rich Plasma: Platelet-rich plasma is got by taking patients’ own blood and centrifuging it to get a concentration of platelets. These activated platelets are then used as injections in the injured areas to improve healing.

  • Bone Marrow-Derived Mononuclear Cells: These cells are harvested from the bone marrow. Bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells are a group of cells that have different cell types like lymphocytes, hemopoietic stem cells, and mesenchymal cells.

What Are Some Bone and Tendon Conditions in Which Cell Therapy Is Used?

1. Osteoarthritis - Cell therapy has been used to treat osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. Mesenchymal stem cells have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to regenerate cartilage joints.

2. Tendinitis - It is the inflammation of a tendon, which may be due to injury or overuse. Cell therapy using platelet-rich plasma or mesenchymal cells has shown promising results in reducing pain and improving function in people with tendinitis.

3. Rotator Cuff Injuries - Rotator cuff is a group of tendons attaching the shoulder muscles to the shoulder blade(scapula). Cell therapy has been used to repair rotator cuff injuries and improve shoulder function.

4. Osteoporosis - In this condition, the bones become brittle and weak making them more prone to fracture. Cell therapy has been shown to improve bone density and reduce fracture risk in osteoporosis.

What Do Studies Say about Stem Cell Therapy for Bone and Tendon Injuries?

  • Numerous studies have been conducted on cell therapy for bone and tendon injuries.

  • One study found that bone marrow-derived mesenchymal cells improved the healing of rotator cuff injuries in a rat model.

  • A review published indicated that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and mesenchymal cells have shown promising results in the treatment of osteoporosis.

  • Another study found that PRP injected into the rotator cuff tendon injury due to sports improved function and pain in patients.

  • Another study found that mesenchymal cells improved the healing of bone fractures in a rabbit model.

What Are the Recent Discoveries about Mining Cell Therapy to Repair Injured Bones and Tendons?

  • Tendon and Bone Repair Using iMSCs

Recently scientists have found that induced pluripotent stem cell-derived mesenchymal stromal cells, specially engineered stem cells can repair and regenerate tendons more effectively than other types of stem cells. But further studies are needed to determine the full potential of these iMSCs.

  • Cranial-Specific Stem Cells and 3D Printing in Repairing the Skull.

Scientists have found that using induced pluripotent stemcells-derived cranial specific stem cells helps in healing bone injuries of the skull by embedding these cells in a special 3D printable material. New regenerative procedures like these have the potential to be a great alternative option to help with craniofacial reconstruction.

What Is the Procedure in Cell Therapy?

In cell therapy, researchers start by identifying cells that have the potential to repair a specific type of injury. This is done by testing different cell types in the lab or in animal models. Once the potential cell types are identified, then researchers develop methods for harvesting or growing these cells in sufficient quantities for use in clinical trials and eventually in patient treatments. Cells may be harvested from the patient’s own body or they may be grown in the lab from a small sample of cells. These cells are then used in the treatment or in clinical trials.

Conclusion.

Cell therapy has the potential to improve healing outcomes for bone and tendon injuries by promoting tissue regeneration and reducing inflammation. It also reduces the need for more invasive surgery. While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits and risks of cell therapy for bone and tendon injuries, initial results have been promising.

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Dr. Anuj Gupta
Dr. Anuj Gupta

Spine Surgery

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