Proteins called Wnts might be the key to speedy bone healing. That's according to Stanford researchers, who used the protein to re-grow broken bones in animal models three times more quickly than normal. From our release:
They stimulated the rapid bone growth by injecting... Wnt [which is] known to be involved in the growth of many types of tissues in animals like salamanders, zebrafish and mice. The feat marks the first time that researchers have managed to package the Wnt protein in a form that could be used in humans, and opens the door to additional experiments to heal skin, muscle, brain and other tissue injuries.
NatureNews also reported on the study, which appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine, and quoted a Columbia University expert who called the work "a major technological advance." But developmental biologist Roel Nusse, PhD, stressed there is still a lot of work to do:
Before starting clinical trials, the team will first have to determine whether the Wnt therapy is safe at high doses and over prolonged periods of time. Humans and mice share a similar Wnt pathway, Nusse says. "It's not unlikely that it would work in humans," he says. "But I don't know how dramatic the effect is going to be."