BRITISH face surgeons are to grow new skull, cheek and jaw bones on patients’ backs using their own stem cells.
The surgeons, from Barts and the London NHS Trust, hope to use the technique to help people whose facial bones have been destroyed by cancer or injury.
Four patients are awaiting the treatment, which the surgeons believe could eventually become a less risky alternative to face transplants. Two are cancer victims and two have had accidents.
The team, led by Iain Hutchison, will make the first attempt to grow replacement bone from a patient’s own stem cells in Britain.
The procedure involves constructing a mould in the shape of the bone required and filling it with the patient’s bone marrow. This contains stem cells which can be persuaded to grow into different types of tissue. A genetically modified protein coaxes the stem cells to grow into bone. The mould is then inserted into the patient’s back muscles below the shoulder blade where it establishes a blood supply from the patient.
It is left to grow there for three to six months when it will be transplanted onto the patient’s face.
According to Hutchison, the stem cell procedure also has advantages over existing techniques of removing bones from other parts of the body. (…)
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