- Jan 25, 2016
[font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]By LISA RYAN FOR DAILYMAIL.COM[/font]
- Stem cells from Axin2 gene aid in skull bone repair, scientists revealed
- These stem cells can help form, repair and regenerate craniofacial bones
- Discovery may lead to new alternatives to surgeries to replace face bones
[font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]PUBLISHED: 20:09, 1 February 2016 | UPDATED: 20:50, 1 February 2016[/font]
[font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][size=x-small]Stem cells capable of skull formation and craniofacial repair have been discovered.
These stem cells offer a new alternative to surgeries to replace damaged craniofacial bones due to congenital disease, trauma or cancer.
Furthermore, the discovery could one day cut out the need for some ‘face transplant’ surgeries – as facial bones from donors would no longer be needed.
Scientists have discovered stem cells that are capable of forming skull bones - and repairing craniofacial bones. This discovery could offer new alternatives to surgeries to replace damaged facial bones
The team of scientists from University of Rochester Medical Center set out to better understand and find stem-cell therapy for craniosynostosis.
The condition is a skull deformity in infants – and is one of the most common craniofacial deformities.
Craniosynostosis ‘often leads to developmental delays and life-threatening elevated pressure in infants.’
The study said: ‘Owing to various limitations, especially the lack of suture stem cell isolation, reconstruction of large craniofacial bone defects remains highly challenging.’
The team spent years in the laboratory, focused on the function of the Axin2 gene and a mutation that causes craniosynostosis in mice.
The Axin2 gene in the skull has a unique expression pattern, the scientists noted.
As a result, they began investigating the activity of Axin2-expressing cells, as well as their role in bone formation, repair and regeneration.
WHAT IS A FACE TRANSPLANT?
Face transplant is a surgical option for certain people with severe facial disfigurement.
The procedure replaces all or part of a person's face with donor tissue from someone who has died.
Face transplant is a complex, high-risk operation that takes months of planning and multiple surgical teams.
Each patient is evaluated to ensure the best possible results in appearance and function.
A face transplant it is a high-risk procedure.
The transplant team can't predict exactly how a person will look and how their immune system will respond to the new face.
The body's immune system may reject the new face and other donor tissues.
The recipient could also lose part or all of your new face and some function.
Source: Mayo Clinic
The research showed that stem cells central to skull formation are located within the Axin2 cell populations.
The study said: ‘These cells, which reside in the suture midline, contribute directly to injury repair and skeletal regeneration in a cell autonomous fashion.’
Pictured here, a blue-stained stem cell and a red-stained stem cell that each generated new bones cells after transplantation
Additionally, the study suggested that the lab tests used to uncover the skeletal stem cells could also be useful to find bone diseases that are caused by stem cell abnormalities.
The study said: ‘Our findings demonstrate [Axin2 cells’] true identity as skeletal stem cells with innate capacities to replace the damaged skeleton in cell-based therapy, and permit further elucidation of the stem cell-mediated craniofacial skeletogenesis, leading to revealing the complex nature of congenital disease and regenerative medicine.
The scientists determined that population of stem cells is unique to bones of the head.
Separate and distinct stem cells are responsible for formation of long bones in the legs and other part of the body, the study found.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
TEN YEARS OF FACE TRANSPLANTS
The first partial facial transplant was done in 2005 on Isabelle Dinoire, a 38-year-old French woman who had been bitten by a dog.
The first operation in the US was performed in December 2008 on Connie Culp, 46, from Cleveland who was shot by her husband four years earlier.
In Spain in 2010, a 31-year-old man named only as Oscar, a farmer who accidentally shot himself in the face, was given what was then described as the world's first full facial transplant.
And in 2015, a severely burned US firefighter, named Pat Hardison, 'the riskiest face transplant to date' to restore both his sight and his face, which had 'melted off' during a fire.
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