Protein therapy speeds bone healing in mice

Imagine being able to re-grow a broken bone three times more quickly than normal. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers say have done just that in mice.

Researchers used liposomes to deliver pieces of a genetically-enhanced protein called Wnt, successfully triggering the creation of bone-healing cells in mice. The fatty material was loaded with the protein and then injected into holes drilled into mouse bones. And the scientists say that the same approach could be used to speed healing not only in human bones, but also for skin wounds, strokes and heart attacks.

"We believe our strategy has the therapeutic potential to accelerate and improve tissue healing in a variety of contexts," says Dr. Jill Helms of Stanford University. "Gut, skin, brain, muscle, cardiac muscle, corneas, retinas--people have studied the role of Wnt signals in all those tissues. Maybe there could be a therapeutic approach to all this."

After a heart attack or stroke, injuries tend to heal slowly and imperfectly, resulting in scar tissue that lacks functionality. But, "using Wnt may one day allow us to regenerate tissue without scarring," Helms adds, as quoted by the school.

Wnt has a well known role in healing injuries in humans and a wide variety of animals. And flooding the system with the protein helped mouse bones heal at a rate three times faster than normal. Helms is the senior author of the work, published April 28 in the online journal Science Translational Medicine, the school reports.

- see the news from Stanford University
- check out the study abstract
- read the article from Wired
- here's the Reuters piece