TUESDAY, April 27, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health have discovered bone-generating stem cells in the spine, at the end of the shins and in cartilage-rich areas of other bones.
They also identified factors that control the growth of these stem cells, according to a report published online April 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Eventually, it may be possible to use these newly identified bone stromal cells to repair damaged or malformed bone, the researchers suggested. They pinpointed the new stem cells in adult mice.
"Identifying the location of bone stem cells and some of the genetic triggers that control their growth is an important step forward," Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher, acting director of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in an agency news release. "Now researchers can explore ways to harness these cells so that ultimately they might be used to repair damaged or malformed bone."
Studies of the newly found stem cell population, he added, could yield insight into the formation of bone tumors. Much of the research was conducted at the institute.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about stem cells.