An injection of a patient's own bone marrow cells in individuals with limb ischemia could help restore impaired circulation and prevent amputation, according to a report last month by researchers at Kansai Medical University in Osaka and other centers in Japan (Lancet. 2002;360:427-435).
In previous work, the researchers had found that bone marrow mononuclear cells can trigger the growth of new blood vessels when injected into muscle with impaired blood flow. In the new study, involving 45 patients with lower limb ischemia, the investigators injected bone marrow mononuclear cells into the gastrocnemius muscle of one leg; as a control, they injected cells from peripheral blood mononuclear cells or saline into the other leg. One month after the procedure, legs injected with the bone marrow cells showed significant improvements in blood flow and were less painful than legs injected with peripheral blood mononuclear cells or saline.
Stephenson J. Limb-Saving Bone Marrow. JAMA. 2002;288(10):1226. doi:10.1001/jama.288.10.1226-JWM20009-4-1