Body repair ‘could be ramped up’

A combination of drugs could trick the body into sending its repair mechanisms into overdrive, say scientists.

The technique could be used to speed the healing of heart or bone damage, they claim.

The bone marrow of treated mice released 100 times as many stem cells – which help to regenerate tissue.

Imperial College London scientists reported their work in the journal Cell Stem Cell, but said human trials were some years away.

The release of stem cells by the bone marrow is a natural part of the repair process – different types are sent to replenish tissue depending on the nature of the injury.

However, in some cases, for example the damage caused by heart disease, the repair is not entirely successful, and loss of function persists.

The theory behind the Imperial College research is to boost the quantity of stem cells released, which will hopefully mean a swifter and more complete recovery.

Techniques already exist to increase the numbers of blood cell producing stem cells from the bone marrow, but the study focuses on two other types – endothelial, which produce the cells which make up our blood vessels, and mesenchymal, which can become bone or cartilage cells.

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