A team of researchers said the study involving mice also identified factors that control the stem cells' growth.
"Identifying the location of bone stem cells and some of the genetic triggers that control their growth is an important step forward," said Dr. Alan Guttmacher, acting director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development -- the NIH institute where much of the research took place. "Now, researchers can explore ways to harness these cells so that ultimately they might be used to repair damaged or malformed bone. Also, studies of this stem cell population could yield insight into the formation of bone tumors."
The scientists said the study is the first to identify the location of bone stem cells in the adult mouse skeleton.
The study included Kit Man Tsang, a graduate student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, NIH Dr. Constantine Stratakis and researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Ohio State University.
The findings appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Copyright 2010 United Press International