Researchers identify a hitherto elusive population of craniofacial stem cells. This fosters hope for cell therapy approaches against diseases like craniosynostosis.
Craniosynostosis is a surprisingly common condition. Up to 1 in 2000 newborns in the US are suffering from this congenital disease that results in the premature closing of one or more of the six sutures of the cranium. These sutures are fibrous tissue layers that separate the free-flowing bones of an infant’s skull. If they close before the brain has stopped growing, the expanding brain exerts more and more pressure on the skull, which gives then way in form of irregular deformities. Mental retardation, hearing or vision loss and breathing problems may accompany the disease. Treatment options include surgical removal of skull parts or, if caught early, endoscopical procedures followed by use of a shaping helmet. If this sounds a lot like bare-bones torture to you, you are not entirely incorrect.