Dr. Kent Leach at UC-Davis has been working on strategies to regenerate functional tissues, to repair or replace damaged tissues. Leach's lab has developed methods combining adult stem cells and composite gel matrices to stimulate tissue regeneration, including growth of bone.

Dr. Leach has now received a Hypothesis Development Award from the U.S. Army to explore an approach to speed bone healing. The research will help development of effective treatments for wounded soldiers or veterans struggling with slow-healing or non-healing bone damage. Soldiers in combat suffer massive wounds to bone and tissue, with about 70% of war wounds as musculoskeletal injuries, over half of those being to the arms and legs.

Dr. Leach's approach will use adult stem cells derived from human adipose (fat) tissue, embedding the cells into a special hydrogel and implanting directly in the injured site. The approach offers the advantages of using the patient's own easily-harvested cells, and increasing the concentration of cells and bone-building substances at the site of the injury.

According to Dr. Leach:

Stem cells from adipose tissue are an exciting alternative to stem cells from bone marrow or other tissues because we can isolate a large number, no matter what the patients condition is.