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Scientists discover way to jumpstart bone's healing process
Date:4/14/2009

Rarely will physicians use the word "miraculous" when discussing patient recoveries. But that's the very phrase orthopaedic physicians and scientists are using in upstate New York to describe their emerging stem cell research that could have a profound impact on the treatment of bone injuries. Results from preliminary work being released todayshow patients confined to wheelchairs were able to walk or live independently again because their broken bones finally healed.

At the heart of the research is the drug teriparatide, or Forteo, which was approved by the FDA in 2002 for the treatment of osteoporosis. Astute observations led a team of clinicians and researchers to uncover how this drug can also boost our bodies' bone stem cell production to the point that adults' bones appear to have the ability to heal at a rate typically seen when they were young kids.

Baseline research presented in February at the Orthopaedic Research Society meeting revealed that of 145 patients who had an unhealed bone fracture half of them for six months or longer 93 percent showed significant healing and pain control after being on teriparatide for only eight to 12 weeks. These findings were enough to convince the National Institutes of Health to fund a clinical trial underway in Rochester, and if the preliminary data are any indication, researchers may have discovered a new, in-the-body stem cell therapy that can jumpstart the body's natural healing process in bones.

The clinical implication is significant, as orthopaedists can soon have a new tool at their disposable to deal with many common, painful bone ailments including the tens of thousands of painful fractures for which there is no treatment (pelvic fractures, vertebral compression fractures, clavicle fractures), fractures that won't heal, fractures in patients that are either too sick to have surgery or chose not to have surgery, and even reduce the size of a incision in some surgeries.


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Contact: Germaine Reinhardt
Germaine_Reinhardt@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-6517
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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