Tuning stem cells
Orthopaedic surgeons, particularly trauma surgeons, spend a considerable amount of time trying to get bone to heal. While it is certainly a natural process, we aim to guide and manipulate the process to ensure that it is achieved as fast as possible, with the lowest chance of complications and the best long-term functional outcome for the patient. Although we have made huge strides in our understanding of bone healing, much remains to be discovered. And, as is the case in nature, the answer to some of our questions are often somewhat obscure. A case in point is the fact that we only discovered the reason for zebras having stripes in 2014.1 White and black stripes are certainly not good camouflage in the African savannah. It turns out that tsetse flies and horse flies (the vector of various equid diseases) avoid black-and-white striped surfaces. While the answer seems obvious now, it eluded scientists for years. Similarly, there are aspects of bone healing which we have thought of as ‘just the way things are’.