Recent progress in human embryonic and adult stem cell research is a cause
for much enthusiasm in bone and joint surgery. Stem cells have therapeutic
potential in the realm of orthopaedic surgery because of their capacity to
self-renew and differentiate into various types of mature cells and tissues,
including bone. Because nonunions remain a clinically important problem, there
is interest in the use of cell-based strategies to augment fracture repair.
Such strategies are being investigated with variations in the model systems,
sources of stem cells, and methods for the application and enhancement of
osseous healing, including genetic modifications and tissue-engineering. This
review highlights the recent progress in the utilization of stem cells and
cell-based gene therapy in promoting fracture-healing and its potential
utility in the clinical setting.