Arinzeh's second stem-cell discovery proved that adult stem cells taken from one patient can be successfully implanted in another. Researchers originally thought such a transfer might be rejected. And it's not just defective bones that may be regenerated by stem cells. Arinzeh is now testing biomaterials that, in combination with stem cells, might also repair cartilage, tendon and neuronal tissues.
Her studies could lead to medical breakthroughs that would help a host of patients. Stem cell implantation could help cancer patients who've had large tumors removed from bone, Arinzeh says. In many such surgeries, patients lose their limbs. But if her method of implanting stem cells is shown to induce bone repair, amputation may not be necessary. Stem cells could also help patients suffering from osteoporosis, whose fractured bones can be regenerated by the cells.
Arinzeh has pushed the basic science of stem cells forward and, with her latest research on bone repair, is taking it yet another step.
"Treena has all the earmarks of a technical superstar," says Mike Jaffe, a professor of biomedical engineering and chemistry at NJIT. "She's at the leading edge of modern biology and if anyone can take stem-cell research forward, she can."