When injuries to the bones don’t heal, it may be because of bone defects, which affect over 5 million people in North America. A bone defect is a serious condition, often occurring after a pathological process (ex. an infection after a traumatic injury) has destroyed vital components of the bone.

Osteomyelitis is one cause of bone defects. It’s an infection that reaches the bone traveling through the bloodstream or spreading from nearby tissue, but can begin in the bone itself if an injury leaves the bone exposed to bacteria. Osteomyelitis requires lengthy recovery times, if not surgery, to repair the body’s damaged bones and soft tissues.

Hyunwoo Kang, an orthopedic surgery resident at the Keck School of Medicine, is exploring the use of stem cells to treat severe bone defects.


Previous studies used a genetically-modified stem cell called bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) to encourage the production of bone and cartilage.

BMPs are a group of growth factors also known as cytokines and metabologens. Cytokines are secreted by certain cells of the immune system, while metabologens initiate, promote, and maintain metabolism and homeostasis (the body’s stability). Together, they orchestrate tissue architecture throughout the body.

Dr. Kang is taking this research one step further by loading genetically-modified stem cells onto a 3-D printed scaffold, then surgically implanting said scaffold into injured rat femurs. If the trials are successful, Kang might discover a similar treatment for human bone defects.


Thanks to experience as both a surgeon and research scientist, Kang understands the balancing act between finding better solutions for patients without compromising a patient’s safety. So, while he will zealously seek out superior treatment options, he will not be overzealous and blinded by his ambitions.


The treatment is barely entering its primary stages, so it’s hard to predict where the research will take Dr. Kang and his colleagues. If they’re successful in their endeavour, it will provide effective, non-invasive treatment options for those suffering from bone defects and osteomyelitis.

As far as we’re concerned, the more patients avoiding risky surgeries and dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, the better.

RegenerVate’s stem cell clinics in Toronto provide safe, effective treatments to help you avoid surgery via natural healing solutions. Our non-invasive stem cell and PRP injection therapies treat your chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and more.

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