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Sunday March 31, 13:20

Mending bones with biological "glue"

Researchers have identified a biochemical substance that could speed up the process that makes bones mend.
Researchers have identified a biochemical substance that could speed up the process that makes bones mend.
 

If the flesh is weak, bones can be weak, too. Fractures are often painfully slow to heal, and bones degenerate with age.

Doctors are attempting to repair severe breaks with bone taken from the patient's body,usually the hip,or with implants of new synthetic substances such as calcium triphosphate.

Such implants, however are either scarce or expensive. Now researchers have identified a biochemical substance that could speed up the process that makes bones mend — and might even make old bones strong again.

Collagen Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., has isolated a hormone like protein that induces connective tissue cells surrounding bone to form cartilage, the tough white gristle (cartilage) from which bones are made. The protein, dubbed "cartilage inducting factor" (CIF), is present in human and animal bone, but in quantities that are too minute to heal major fractures quickly. Collagen has succeeded in extracting CIF from pulverized animal bone. By applying a mixture of CIF and other proteins to a fractured area, scientists hope to force cartilage - and, eventually, bone - to grow.

So far Collagen's scientists have used the method exclusively to heal animal fractures, emploing CIF extracted from the bones of cows. With the help of molecular engineers at Monsanto Co., however, Collagen plans to apply recombinant DNA (deozyribonucleis acid) techniques to produce large quantities of CIF. Once CIF extracts are available, Collagen's researchers hope to use the material to do more than just knit together simple fractures. The protein, they believe, can be utilized to replace bone tissue lost from gum disease, fuse spines, reconstruct cleft palates and correct other congenital deffects.

 
 
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