When Diana Souza broke her arm, doctors struggled to repair the injury. A previous fracture had caused the arm to heal slightly crooked, and the second break seemed impossible to fix. After three ineffective surgeries, her arm bone was full of holes. Eventually, she was introduced to Dr. Mark Lee at UC Davis, who decided to take a different approach.
Dr. Lee had successfully used bone marrow stem cells to facilitate the creation of new bone. Where other fracture repair techniques usually leave the bone weaker than it was before, the stem cells allow the bone to restore itself. Dr. Lee took marrow from Diana’s hip to extract the stem cells, then realigned her arm bones, placing stem cells in the gaps. Months later, Diana’s x-rays revealed astonishing results.
The bone was healed and the holes had been repaired. She was ecstatic to be able to continue working on her ranch in California. More researchers at UC Davis are exploring the possibility of using stem cells to create a substance that would correct bone healing problems. A disease called craniostenosis causes a baby’s skull to fuse together prematurely, trapping their developing brain in an inadequate amount of space. Creating a gel that could control this premature bone formation would be a huge step forward in treating this and many other bone problems. To read this entire story and learn more about the stem cell research being done to cure bone fractures, click here.