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Stem Cells Might Speed Healing In Achilles Tendon Rupture

H/T to MedGadget who’s post introduced me to “bioactive sutures.”  What a great idea by the Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering students!

……have demonstrated a practical way to embed a patient’s own adult stem cells in the surgical thread that doctors use to repair serious orthopedic injuries such as ruptured tendons. The goal, the students said, is to enhance healing and reduce the likelihood of re-injury without changing the surgical procedure itself.

The project team of 10 undergraduates focused on Achilles tendon injuries which require repair in approximately 46,000 people in the United States every year.   The surgery may fail in as many as 20%.  Recovery can take up to a year even with successful surgery.  If this new suture speeds healing and lowers failure rates – what potential!

At the site of the injury, the stem cells are expected to reduce inflammation and release growth factor proteins that speed up the healing, enhancing the prospects for a full recovery and reducing the likelihood of re-injury. The team’s preliminary experiments in an animal model have yielded promising results, indicating that the stem cells attached to the sutures can survive the surgical process and retain the ability to turn into replacement tissue, such as tendon or cartilage……………

As envisioned by the company and the students, a doctor would withdraw bone marrow containing stem cells from a patient’s hip while the patient was under anesthesia. The stem cells would then be embedded in the novel suture through a quick and easily performed proprietary process. The surgeon would then stitch together the ruptured Achilles tendon or other injury in the conventional manner but using the sutures embedded with stem cells.

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

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