Natural Compound Speeds Bone Growth
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30 April 2010
A protein produced naturally by the body can speed up bone growth and may offer a route to fixing fractures more quickly, researchers reported.
They found the protein sends a signal that activates bone stem cells to make new bone, and said the finding could also improve bone grafts. While the findings were tested in mice, humans and mice have the same biology in this area. The protein is called Wnt, and scientists have known for a long time that many animal species use it to regenerate tissue, the researchers wrote in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
But it is hard to work with and will not dissolve in water. However they found a way to implant pieces of genetically enhanced Wnt protein in little bubbles of fatty material called liposomes. When they drilled holes in the bones of mice and injected the little Wnt liposomes, the Wnt caused bone stem cells at the injury site to divide and mature into bone–forming cells faster. Other tissues too use Wnt to regenerate and the team plans to test their approach in treating skin wounds, strokes and heart attacks.