Growing Bones

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Friday, August 26, 2011 - 9:33am

Doctors use stem cells extracted from fat to create new bone tissue.

Researchers in Maryland are using stem cells from fat to grow new bone.

In January 2009, 53-year-old Susan Cossabone was in a terrible head-on collision.

Her injuries made her fear that she'd never walk again, much less ride her beloved horses at her horse farm in New Jersey.

"I thought I would lose the leg. If you could have seen it when they cut off my favorite jeans -- you could just see bones sticking and flesh. You couldn't see much of a leg," she explained.

For a while, it looked as though her leg would require amputation, doctors said.

But Cossabone finally saw Mercy Medical Center's world-renowned foot and ankle specialist Dr. Mark Myerson, who gave her a different diagnosis.

"When you have limited blood circulation coming to the bone -- limited capacity for healing and limited ability for the body to produce new bone -- we have to stimulate it," he said.

Myerson said he used Allostem on Cossabone.

Allostem is a product made from stem cells extracted from fat from a cadaver, and those cells are electronically manipulated to develop into bone.

"It's a collagen sponge onto which stem cells have been attached. When you implant that sponge in the body, it will produce bone," he explained.

Cossabone said since then, she's gotten some of her strength back.

"I'm getting on my feet 15-20 minutes at a stretch and teaching in the ring again," she said.

She'll also have to wear a small lift in one shoe.

She said her goal is to be released and get back on her horses.
 

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