New York: Children with facial deformities who normally have to wait until adulthood for corrective surgery may now breathe easy as researchers have found that certain cells that drive bone growth can be used to treat those kids.
A certain subset of cartilage-making cells, known as chondrocytes, replicate themselves, make other bone cells and drive bone growth, the findings showed.
"Up until now, the cells that drive this bone growth have not been understood very well," said Noriaki Ono from University of Michigan.
"If we can find a way to make bones that continue to grow along with the child, maybe we would be able to put these pieces of growing bones back into children and make their faces look much better than they do," Ono explained.
It has long been thought that these chondrocytes die when children reached adolescence and their bones stopped growing, Ono pointed out.
But researchers have now found that some chondrocytes do not die, but rather transform themselves into other types of bone-growing and bone-healing cells.
Many factors cause craniofacial deformities, and all are devastating to children.
In children with Goldenhar syndrome, underdeveloped facial tissues can harm the developing jawbone.
Another bone deformity called deformational plagiocephaly causes a child's head to grow asymmetrically.
The study appeared in the journal Nature Cell Biology.