An astounding new bone healing technique has shown effervescent results in studies on minipigs. Every year, hundreds of thousands of bone breakage casualties encounter difficulties in healing and complications arise. Bone grafts have been the answer which require marrow transplantation in order to work. The problem with transplants is that the body often rejects them and to reduce this risk, immune system suppressing drugs are needed. This puts the patient at extreme risk when combined with the fact that many broken bone complications arise in the elderly.
Another modern technique has been to deliver bone healing proteins via a virus which has been programmed to produce the right molecules to encourage regrowth. These are called bone morphogenetic proteins. The problem with this method is that a viral agent also causes negative symptoms and swelling often is the result. This creates a painful and difficult breakage that is even harder to manage.
A new method was needed, one that wouldn't put the patient under so much strain. This is where the pigs come in. It may seem like overly cruel to be overly kind to some, but for those in the future who benefit from this new technique, life expectancy is set to be much greater. According to Director Edward Schwarz of Rochester University's Centre for Musculoskeletal Research (The Verge), you can expect to live longer with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer if you are elderly and suffer from a non-healing fracture.
So what is this remarkable method? Micro-bubbles. By inserting biodegradable scaffoldings for stem cell growth into caused 0.4 inch fractures on 18 minipigs, and then left for two weeks, the scaffolds became populated with stem cells. But they didn't reproduce into bone, so the researchers injected micro-bubbles and morphogenetic proteins onto the scaffold which miraculously sparked the desired growth when burst using ultra-sound. Genius.
How do you feel about using animals to discover this technique? Have you lost anyone due to them not healing from broken bones? Would you accept this treatment if you needed it? The ethics in medical sciences are often complex, and it takes a certain type of person to be a part of the process. Could you do it?
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