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A New Bone Grafting Procedure Shows Decreased Risk of Complications

At the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, researchers are investigating whether stem cells grown from the body can be used in bone grafting, replacing more traditional bone grafting procedures. The goal is to use the body’s natural ability to heal and regenerate to aid in bone repair, including in the jawbone.

There are multiple bone grafting techniques already in use to establish a graft source in the mouth. An oral surgeon can pull from the patient’s body (autogenous graft), a cadaver (allograft graft) or an animal such as a cow (xenograft graft). The autogenous graft has been the favored option because the surgeon is taking a piece of bone from within the patient’s body – such as the hip or chin – which tends to have the best results.

Now Dr. Liping Tang, the bioengineering chair and professor at UT Arlington, and Dr. Joseph Borrelli, chair of orthopedics for Texas Health Arlington Memorial, are leading the research for natural stem cell growth to eliminate bone-graft harvesting altogether. The process, which has only been performed on mice, uses biodegradable polymer scaffolding material with bone morphogenetic protein, or BMP, that stimulates bone growth. This engineered combination is then inserted into the abdomen to attract stem cells. The study showed that those stem cells produced bone and harbored healthy bone growth.

Drs. Tang and Borrelli hope this new procedure will not only reduce the risk of post-surgical complications, but also reduce medical costs associated with grafting. The scaffolding material and protein combination will be created and then injected where the bone needs to grow. The patient’s cell material will remain inside the body, cutting down on surgical time and medical cost. In addition, the patient will not have to experience any discomfort from graft harvesting.

Although this procedure is still undergoing additional research and testing, it shows promise as a major medical advancement in bone grafting that will benefit both patients and doctors alike.


UT Arlington, Texas Health Arlington Memorial Researchers Looking To Create New Bone Tissue Generation Technique.http://www.uta.edu/news/releases/2014/04/tang-borrelli-bonetissue.php. Updated April 9, 2014. Accessed January 19, 2015.

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