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Biotech, University to Partner on Bone Regeneration Trial

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University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and biotechnology company NeoStem Inc. in New York are collaborating on a clinical trial to test the ability of adult stem cells to grow into bone tissue. The trial, which involves the university’s dental school, will try to regenerate bone tissue among patients who need a tooth extraction.

NeoStem developed a technology using tiny stem cells resembling and acting like embryonic stem cells, but taken from adults. The technique that Neostem calls very small embryonic-like or VSEL isolates, purifies, and concentrates stem cells from the patient’s other cells. The researchers hypothesize that VSEL stem cells can provide a minimally invasive way to speed bone regeneration for dental patients and others with bone trauma, which can be a painful process.

The university will design the trial, care for the patients, and conduct the data analysis, while NeoStem will provide the technology to isolate and purify the stem cells. The trial will enroll some 50 patients over the next year that need a tooth extraction and implant. All patients will have cells harvested before the extractions.

Part of the sample will have the harvested cells treated with the VSEL technique to derive and purify the stem cells, which will be re-implanted into the patients. The rest of the sample — the control group — will have their own untreated cells, not the stem cells, returned. The researchers will remove for analysis a small portion of new bone tissue that regrows, and replace it with an implant.

Russell Taichman, professor of dentistry at Michigan and study leader says, “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 adds, “NeoStem’s technology concentrates them so that we can place a higher quantity of them onto the wound site.”

NeoStem has a patent on its technology for purifying and processing VSEL stem cells. Michigan filed a patent for its application of VSEL stem cells for bone regeneration.

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