Revolutionary putty could heal bone fractures in days rather than months, claim scientists
Last updated at 3:20 PM on 8th February 2012
A 'fracture putty' could have people with broken legs up and moving as fast as days afterward, claim scientists
Anyone who has broken a bone knows how long and arduous the recovery period can be.
Now scientists say they have created a revolutionary 'putty' that can put the healing process into super-drive.
Scientists from the University of Georgia Regenerative Bioscience Center used adult stem cells to produce a protein involved in bone
healing and generation.
They then incorporated them into a gel,
combining the healing properties into something they labelled 'fracture
Working with Dr John Peroni from the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine the team used a stabilising device and inserted putty into
fractures in rats.
Video of the healed animals at two weeks shows the
rats running around and standing on their hind legs with no evidence of
injury. The RBC researchers are testing the material in pigs and sheep,
'The small-animal work has progressed, and we are making good progress in large animals,' study leader Dr Steve Stice said.
The researchers hope the putty will revolutionise fracture treatment for injured soldiers.
'Complex fractures are a major cause of
amputation of limbs for U.S. military men and women,' Dr Stice said.
'For many young soldiers, their mental
health becomes a real issue when they are confined to a bed for three to
six months after an injury.
'This discovery may allow them to
be up and moving as fast as days afterward.'
However, more animal trials will need to before it can be tested on humans.
'The next step is to show that we can
rapidly and consistently heal fractures in a large animal,' Dr Peroni said, 'then to convert it to clinical cases in the UGA clinics where clinicians treat animals with complex fractures
all the time.'
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Between 2009 and 2011 the group were awarded $1.4million from the U.S Department of Defense for testing the putty in sheep.
This year, they revealed bone can be
generated in the animals in less than four weeks.
However, the scientists may have to find new funding as the Department of Defense may cut the grant for biomedical work.
The team said they aren't the only group working on a faster fix for broken bones.
'Our approach is biological with the putty,' Dr Stice said.
'Other groups are looking at polymers and engineering approaches like implants and replacements which may eventually be combined with our approach. We are looking at other applications, too, using this gel, or putty, to improve spinal fusion outcomes.'
One of the best hopes for the fracture putty is in possible facial cranial replacements, an injury often seen on the battlefield.
The project ends in mid-2012.
'By then we are to deliver the system to the DOD,' Dr Stice said.