Researchers have used sound waves to turn stem cells into bone cells, in a tissue engineering advance that could one day help patients regrow bone lost to cancer or degenerative disease. The innovative stem cell treatment from researchers at RMIT University offers a smart way forward for overcoming some of the field's biggest challenges, through the precision power of high-frequency soundwaves.
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Why is this important?
Tissue engineering is an emerging field that aims to rebuild bone and muscle by harnessing the human body's natural ability to heal itself. A key challenge in regrowing bone is the need for large amounts of bone cells that will thrive and flourish once implanted in the target area. To date, experimental processes to change adult stem cells into bone cells have used complicated and expensive equipment and have struggled with mass production, making widespread clinical application unrealistic. Additionally, the few clinical trials attempting to regrow bone have largely used stem cells extracted from a patient's bone marrow—a highly painful procedure. In a new study published in the journal Small, the RMIT research team showed stem cells treated with high-frequency sound waves turned into bone cells quickly and efficiently. Importantly, the treatment was effective on multiple types of cells including fat-derived stem cells, which are far less painful to extract from a patient. Co-lead researcher Dr. Amy Gelmi said the new approach was faster and simpler than other methods:
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