Scientists have observed that bone marrow cells can make new blood vessels, when transplanted into limbs with poor circulation. In peripheral arterial disease, circulation in the legs is severely restricted because the arteries are narrowed. The result is pain and disability. In severe cases, the limb may even need amputation to avoid gangrene and death.
Researchers in Osaka, Japan, have found that injecting cells from a patient's own bone marrow stimulates growth of new blood vessels in the affected limb. In a trial of 40 patients, 35 reported a significant improvement in pain four weeks after the procedure. Fifteen of 20 patients who'd been scheduled for amputation were able to avoid the operation and leg ulcers improved in six out of ten patients. The researchers conclude that bone marrow cell transplantation is a safe and effective treatment for peripheral arterial disease.