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

Aging Bones Heal Slower

Of the estimated six million fractures in the United States each year, approximately five percent will have slow or incomplete healing. According to J. Edward Puzas, Ph.D., who heads up orthopaedic bone research at the University of Rochester Medical Center and is the principal investigator of the clinical trial, a large portion of non-healing fractures tend to occur in older adults.

"In many people, as they get older, their skeleton loses the ability to heal fractures and repair itself," Puzas said. "With careful application of teriparatide, we believe we've found a way to turn back the clock on fracture healing through a simple, in-body stem cell therapy."

Those especially hard hit are the nearly 60,000 Americans suffering from pelvic fractures, where bracing and immobilization are not an option for an injury that leaves people immobile and in pain before the bone fuses.

"It takes three to four months for a typical pelvic fracture to heal. But during those three months, patients can be in excruciating pain, because there are no medical devices or other treatments that can provide relief to the patient," said Susan V. Bukata, M.D., medical director of the Center for Bone Health at the University of Rochester Medical Center Bukata. "Imagine if we can give patients a way to cut the time of their pain and immobility in half? That's what teriparatide did in our initial research."

Bukata said much more was at stake then just comfort and pain relief. Patients who would ordinarily be confined to nursing homes or require additional medical attention because of non-healing fractures might be able to live an independent life. Bukata and Puzas estimate that if this drug saved just one week in a nursing home, it would pay for itself and beyond.

"Many people don't realize that pelvic fracture carries with them the same mortality as hip fractures in one year, approximately one-quarter of all
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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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