RALEIGH- A new discovery and new process for stem cell research is aimed at helping people with skeletal defects.

Dr. Elizabeth Loboa’s research at the North Carolina State University cell mechanics laboratory uses a unique approach to create bone tissue from adult stem cells. Loboa, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and her research assistants are growing bone tissue. The process uses fluid shear stress applied to human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) that have been seeded into a polymeric scaffold.

“If mesenchymal stem cells can be harvested from the patient and used to create replacement bone tissue, the resulting replacement bone would be completely compatible with the native bone, avoiding rejection and other issues such as lack of autologous bone tissue for harvesting associated with present-day bone tissue replacements,” said Loboa.

Loboa’s team also announced a breakthrough in hMSC research at the conference. Her team is the first in the world to prove that palladin, a protein associated with the actin cytoskeleton, is present in mesenchymal stem cells. Since palladin is important in cytoskeletal organization, the team believes that this discovery could lead to clues about how mechanical stimuli modulate hMSC differentiation into bone.

“Eventually this research could lead to the development of a process
to grow bone to replace damaged or lost bone in patients with osteoporosis or other skeletal defects,” said Loboa. “One of the problems with these degenerative bone diseases is the loss of mobility. We hope that by giving patients new bone that matches their native bone, we can restore some of their mobility.”