Scientists at the University of Glasgow and the University of West Scotland have found that vibrations may be an effective way to transform stem cells into bone, which could be good news for patients in need for healthy bone tissue. It’s another step toward finding a way to effectively treat conditions that don’t always respond well to traditional spine surgery procedures.
Scottish scientists have found a way to use small vibrations to encourage stem cells to become bone cells called osteoblasts. Researchers used low-frequency vibrations as part of a process referred to as nanokicking to facilitate the transformation. The vibrations used are very slight, similar to what may happen if an empty glass is gently bumped.
Scottish scientists believe that the 1000 Hz frequency used in the lab to spur the change into bone cells mimics natural conditions. The physiology of bone growth includes certain internal actions that trigger the development process. Laboratory bone growth encouraged by vibrations occurred in just under 30 days.
Researchers are tapping into a process similar to what bones already experience within the body. It’s already known that bones are capable of converting mechanical stress into electricity at certain frequencies. The lab-induced vibrations draw from this natural process to encourage healing.
Scientists hope to use the results of their research to reach a point where damaged bone can be healed within the body without the need for invasive surgery. For older patients, in particular, surgery to repair fractures or broken bones can be risky. Minimizing the need for surgery could also reduce the need for lengthy recovery periods and other post-surgery necessities.
Bone ranks behind blood as the most transplanted tissue. It needs constant regeneration to remain strong and healthy, which is why frequency stimulation may be beneficial. Older patients who’ve experienced a fracture or those who have a condition like osteoporosis that weakens bone may be among those who benefit from this research. Scientists plan to advance testing to include humans within the next few years.
Spine surgery should always be a last resort for patients, used only after exhausting conservative treatments for chronic back pain. For more information, call The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration at (310) 828-7757 today and schedule an in-person consultation.