Cell Therapy Targets Gum Disease, Stretch Marks

Special dermal-layer cells might even regrow hair, company says

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WEDNESDAY, May 4, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Injections of a type of skin cell called fibroblasts could offer a simple way to treat gum disease, baldness, stretch marks and other common problems, according to new research.

Fibroblasts control levels of the proteins elastin and collagen, which are present in skin, bones and other connective body tissues. The article describes a process in which fibroblast cells are removed from the skin's dermal layer, multiplied in the laboratory and then injected into the targeted body site.

Once injected, fibroblasts seem to automatically know what to do, noted fibroblast expert Dr. Mark Lewis of University College, London.

"Fibroblasts seem to have exquisite judgment of how much stuff they should produce. They know what to do because they know what is involved in normal maintenance," Lewis said in a prepared statement.

For several years, fibroblast treatment has been used to rejuvenate aging faces. Recently, scientists at the Texas-based biotech company Isolagen have had some success using fibroblasts to treat stretch marks. Currently, these pregnancy-related skin aberrations can only be removed by surgery.

"We have carried out 15 case studies and seem to be having great success with depressed or indented stretch marks. Raised stretch marks are proving more difficult... but we are working on it," Bob Sexauer, vice president of corporate development at Isolagen, said in a prepared statement.

As outlined in a recent article in Chemistry & Industry magazine, the company has also had success in Phase I and II clinical trials using fibroblast injections to regenerate gum tissue in people with gum disease. They have even had some success using fibroblasts to grow hair, although Sexauer said it remains unclear whether this research will lead to any type of product aimed at treating baldness.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has more about gum disease.

SOURCE: Society of Chemical Industry, news release, May 2, 2005

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