Discarded tissue from hip replacement operations provides a rich source of stem cells people might be able to bank for future use, according to new Australian research.
The cells could be used to grow new bone or tissue after the removal of a tumour, an injury or infection, says research leader Professor Melissa Knothe Tate, a biomedical engineer at the University of NSW.
The study, published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, shows the cells are viable, even though they come from older people with a condition such as arthritis.
“Currently, we either have to take cells from another person or we can perform surgery to take cells from the patient’s bone marrow.”
Tens of thousands of hip replacements are performed a year, which could provide a rich source of stem cells, Prof Knothe Tate says.
It is always better to use a person’s own stem cells, which reduces the risk of infection and rejection.
Older adults were born too late to have their umbilical cord cells banked at birth, as is possible now, says co-researcher Dr Ulf Knothe from Cleveland Clinic in the US.
The stem cells could be used immediately if the patient has a need, or could potentially be banked. But this still needs to be tested.
Dr Knothe has conducted limited studies on humans that show the hip-replacement stem cells can be used to repair serious tissue and bone damage.
The study may open “unprecedented opportunities” for the treatment of people born too early to bank their own cord tissue or blood, he says.