New Ortho Stem Cell Discovery | Orthopedics This Week

New Ortho Stem Cell Discovery; AAOS Diversity Award Winner; Silver Nylon Cuts Infection Rates

Source: Johnny Huard, Ph.D.

New Ortho Stem Cell Discovery

Johnny Huard, Ph.D. has figured out why women outlive men. Dr. Huard, distinguished professor and vice chair for research in the department of orthopedic surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), says it has much to do with young blood and young stem cells…and little to do with men’s love of motorcycles.

But more on that later.

Dr. Huard, also director of the Center for Regenerative Sports Medicine and the chief scientific officer at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, Colorado, was recently honored with the Kappa Delta Ann Doner Vaughan award for his unique regenerative medicine approach using muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs).

Dr. Huard told OTW, “What a huge honor and a wonderful recognition for our work. I am so pleased to be able to get the word out about this exciting path that will ultimately lead to improvements in tissue repair.”

Detailing the exciting trail of his research, Dr. Huard notes, “In 1999 scientists began cell transplantation using muscle cells and found that the cell transplantation wasn’t working because 99% of the cells were dying at the injection site. That set off a great race to discover why those cells were dying.”

But Dr. Huard, then at the University of Pittsburgh, asked a different question, namely, “Why are the 1% surviving?”

“I wanted to know what made those particular cells different,” says Dr. Huard. We found that the 1% of the cells that were surviving were indeed stem cells.

Dr. Huard began collaborating with new “Pitt” faculty member Bruno Peault, Ph.D. Together, they asked, “Where do those stem cells originate?”

Dr. Huard told OTW, “We went on a fishing expedition and found out that those muscle stem cells come from blood vessels…and that blood vessels are likely probably the origin of other stem cells such as fat derived stem cells and bone marrow stem cells.

They then postulated that if MDSCs come from blood vessels then perhaps the next step should be to promote angiogenesis.

“Eureka!” said Dr. Huard. “We determined that if you want to improve tissue repair then you need to promote angiogenesis. By transplanting MDSCs into injured skeletal muscle we fostered better muscle healing by promoting angiogenesis.”

And perhaps the most tantalizing part of all of this is the implication for aging cells. Dr. Huard told OTW, “As we age, stem cells decline in number and function. We took young stem cells and injected them into older mice and found that the lifespan/healthspan of those animals was greatly extended. So, this made us ask, ‘Can we isolate factors secreted by young stem cells that can be used to make humans age better?’”

So, they brought in some new blood…literally.

“We started to ‘stitch together’ young and old mice,” said Dr. Huard, “and found that the young mice shared their blood with the old mice—and the old ‘folks’ began to age slower! The idea is that when you get old your blood and cells get old as well. And this is why women live longer than men…even in mice, rabbits, etc., females always live longer. When a woman is pregnant the fetus is sending her its young blood and stem cells. We believe this is the reason why women live longer than men on average.”

“There is great promise for the use of these autologous adult stem cells to improve the healing of numerous tissue types. I have great hope for the future of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.”


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