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Scientists Find Way to Heal Broken Bones Faster
Date:4/28/2010

Mouse study suggests Wnt protein might help humans with fractures, too

WEDNESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Stanford researchers have found a way to significantly speed up the healing of broken bones in mice, a feat which, if replicated in humans, could mean people with fractures would be free of their casts a lot sooner.

"This has huge implications," said Dr. Victor Khabie, co-director of the Orthopedic and Spine Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. "Broken bones is a big problem, and this is just the tip of the iceberg."

The technique could help in fusing bones as well, and many other surgeries that rely on bone growth and bone healing to succeed, he added.

"A lot of the surgeries we do rely on bone growth and bone healing, and a lot of the failures of surgery have to do with the fact that the bone never heals or the fusion never [takes]," Khabie explained.

And this might have applications beyond bones.

"It isn't limited to bone injuries," said Dr. Jill Helms, senior author of the study published in the April 28 issue of Science Translational Medicine. "There's a lot of interest in the role that [the protein used in these experiments] plays in tissue repair and tissue regeneration."

That also includes blood, neural and cardiac cells, added Helms, who is a professor of surgery and of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine.

The research borrowed a chapter from the lives of animals that can regenerate on their own, such as zebrafish and flat worms.

Scientists already knew that this capability was partly due to a class of proteins called Wnt proteins.

Although mammals don't have the same innate ability to regenerate, the researchers speculated that, with a little help from Wnt proteins, maybe they could.

The researchers actually conducted two experiments, both testing the
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