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Researchers believe that stem cell therapy could offer new treatment options for craniofacial defects and injuries. (DTI/Photo courtesy of stefanolunardi/Shutterstock)
Aug 3, 2012 | News Americas

Stem cell therapy holds potential for craniofacial reconstruction

by Dental Tribune International

ANN ARBOR, Mich., USA: In a pioneering study, researchers have discovered that using stem cell therapy to regenerate craniofacial bone tissue proved to be quicker, more effective and less invasive than traditional regeneration therapies. They believe that transplantation of stem cells could offer new treatment options for complex oral and facial deformities resulting from trauma, disease or birth defects.

The study was conducted with 24 patients who required reconstruction of jawbone defects after tooth removal. One group of patients received conventional guided bone regeneration (GBR), while the other group received experimental tissue repair cells (TRC), which were planted in different areas of the mouth and the jaw. The cells were originally extracted from bone marrow from the patients' hips.

At six to 12 weeks after the treatment, dental implants were placed. The researchers observed that TRC therapy accelerated alveolar bone regeneration compared with GBR therapy, as patients who had received TRCs had greater bone density and quicker bone repair. In addition, TRC treatment significantly reduced the need for secondary bone grafting when patients in the experimental group received their dental implants.

According to the researchers, the method offers new treatment options for large oral and facial defects that involve different tissue types, such as bone, skin and gum tissue. They also hope that transplantation of TRCs could help to restore areas of bone loss in patients with complex jawbone deficiencies, so that missing teeth could be replaced with dental implants.

The researchers predict that stem cell therapies are still probably five to ten years away from being in regular use in craniofacial reconstruction and therefore recommend an expansion of studies on TRC therapy.

The research was carried out by scientists at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in collaboration with the Michigan Center for Oral Health Research and Aastrom Biosciences, a company dedicated to the development of process technologies and devices for cell therapy applications, including stem cell therapies and gene therapy. TRCs are under development at Aastrom.

The study was published in the July issue of the Cell Transplantation journal.

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