Can sound waves help in bone regrowth?
An innovative stem cell treatment by researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, offers a smart way forward to overcome some of the biggest challenges in the field through the precise power of high-frequency sound waves.
Researchers have used sound waves to convert stem cells into bone cells, an advance in tissue engineering that could one day help patients restore bone mass lost to cancer or degenerative disease. A key challenge in bone regrowth is the need for a large number of bone cells that will thrive once implanted in the target area.
Until now, experimental processes to change adult stem cells into bone cells have used complicated and expensive equipment and struggled with mass production, making widespread clinical application unrealistic. Additionally, several clinical trials attempting bone regrowth have extensively used stem cells extracted from the patient's bone marrow, a very painful procedure.
Sound waves as a painless treatment of the future
In a new study published in the journal Small, the RMIT research team showed that stem cells treated with high-frequency sound waves quickly and efficiently turned into bone cells. Importantly, the treatment was effective on multiple cell types, including fat-derived stem cells, which are much less painful to extract from the patient.
The sound waves cut the treatment time usually needed for the stem cells to start turning into bone cells by several days. The high-frequency sound waves used in stem cell therapy were generated on a low-cost microchip device developed by RMIT.
Co-lead researcher Professor Leslie Yeo and his team have spent more than a decade investigating the interaction of sound waves at frequencies above 10 MHz with various materials. The sound wave-generating device they developed can be used to precisely manipulate cells, fluids, or materials.
The new sound wave therapy technology requires more research, but the future looks bright.
Source: Lizebona August Ambattu, Amy Gelmi, Leslie Y. Yeo. Short-Duration High-Frequency MegaHertz-Order Nanomechanostimulation Drives Early and Persistent Osteogenic Differentiation in Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Small, 2022; 2106823 DOI: 10.1002/smll.202106823