I guess I don't have to invest in the full-body shock-absorbing suit for my kid anymore.
Breaking bones is never a fun experience. You have to entomb your limb in plaster, and can't move it for months. Even having all your friends sign your cast is hardly worth the pain and, oh, the itching. Stop the itching! Thankfully, science has come to the rescue again. Researchers at the University of Georgia Regenerative Bioscience Center have developed a "bone putty" of stem cells that when injected near a fractured bone, greatly speeds up healing time. Instead of weeks or months, bones are healed in days. The new technique has applications for the U.S. military and veterinarians, two groups I never thought would be working together.
"Complex fractures are a major cause of amputation of limbs for U.S. military men and women," said Steve Stice, one of the scientists involved. "For many young soldiers, their mental health becomes a real issue when they are confined to a bed for three to six months after an injury. This discovery may allow them to be up and moving as fast as days afterward."
"This process addresses both human and veterinary orthopedic needs," said veterinarian professor of large animal surgery, Dr. John Peroni. "Healing of critical-size defects is a major challenge to the orthopedic research community. Large-bone defects must be stabilized and necessitate technologies that induce rapid bone formation in order to replace the missing tissue and allow the individual to return to rapid function. To date, no single material can suffice."
So far, clinical tests have been successful, reducing the healing time in sheep to just four weeks. "The small-animal work has progressed, and we are making good progress in large animals," Peroni said.
Stice admitted that his team is not the only group working on fixing bones faster for the U.S. military but the others have focused on plastics and polymers instead of the biological approach. The Department of Defense expects results by mid-2012. "By then we are to deliver the system to the DOD," Stice said.
Good, because the plots of horror movies have been tame the last few months. We need a movie about a cow that goes berserk after being injected with the adult stem cells of a serial killer. (That idea is already copyrighted, Hollywood, you can't steal it.)