Bone marrow is a treasure trove of different types of stem cells. One of the stem cells in bone marrow is the so-called “very small embryonic-like” stem cell or VSEL stem cell. While these cells are still a bit mysterious, there is a clinical trial in the making that uses VSEL stem cells to grow bone in human patients.
Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and the New York-based company Neostem, Inc are pursuing this project, and their hypothesis is that VSEL stem cells can speed bone regeneration in dental patients and others who need bone treatments.
In this trial, Neostem will provide the cells and the patented technology to purify the VSEL stem cells. University of Michigan will design the clinical trial, provide the patient care, and analyze the data generated by the study. All patients will receive their treatments at the U-M Center for Oral Health Research and the U-M Health System.
Russell Taichman, Professor of Dentistry and Director of University of Michigan Scholars Program in Dental Leadership, said this about this project: “Within a year, researchers hope to begin recruiting roughly 50 patients who need tooth extraction and a dental implant.” However, before extracting the tooth, U-M researchers will harvest bone marrow from the patient and send it to Neostem. At Neostem, a special technology will be employed to isolate the VSEL stem cells from the bone marrow.
Once the patient has had their tooth extraction or bone resectioning, the researchers will implant the patient’s own VSEL stem cells directly into the patient’s jaw. Patients will receive either VSEL stem cells, or some other cells. Atter the new bone grows, researchers will remove a small portion of the bone for analysis, and the patients will also receive an implant.
According to Taichman, “We’re taking advantage of the time between extraction and implant to see if these cells will expedite healing time and produce better quality bone.” Taichman continued: “They are natural cells that are already in your body, but Neostem’s technology concentrates them so that we can place a higher quantity of them into the wound site.”
U-M has applied for initial patient protection to use the VSEL stem cells to grow bone. Robin Smith, chairman and CEO of Neostem, emphasized the importance of this study for the development of VSEL stem cells from the patient’s own body to treat a wide range of diseases.