Arinzeh, of Jersey City, recently published a paper in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, “An In-vivo Evaluation of a Bioactive Ceramic Scaffold for Bone Tissue Engineering," documenting a breakthrough in stem cell research.
Arinzeh’s paper focuses on developing scaffolds that aid stem cells. Scaffolds are biomaterials, such as calcium phosphates, that act as a framework for stem cells, allowing the cells to repair bone as the biomaterial degrades.
Arinzeh performed animal studies on rats with bone defects; she also did cell-culture studies. Both showed that the biomaterials stimulated stem cells, producing new bone tissue and fully repairing the rats’ bones. After 12 weeks, their bones were regenerated, with full restoration of the mechanical properties of their long bones.
Her studies could lead to medical breakthroughs that would help a host of patients. Stem cell implantation, for instance, could help cancer patients who've had large tumors removed from bone, Arinzeh says. In many such surgeries, patients lose their limbs. But if her method of implanting stem cells mixed with biomaterials is shown to induce bone repair, amputation may not be necessary.
Stem cells could also help patients suffering from osteoporosis, whose fractured bones can be regenerated by the cells. Arinzeh’s research has also shown that adult stem cells taken from one patient can be successfully implanted in another. Researchers at first thought such a transfer might be rejected. And it's not just defective bones that may be regenerated by stem cells and biomaterials. Arinzeh is now testing biomaterials that, in combination with adult stem cells, might also repair cartilage, tendon and neuronal tissues.
"This is a very exciting time," Arinzeh says. "The field of tissue regeneration is wide open and has the potential to influence how physicians treat patients with severely damaged or diseased tissues. I feel grateful and privileged to be doing research in this important field."
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