'Fracture putty' may quicken the bone-healing process

Broken bones are never fun, but they're a little more serious for men and women serving in the active military, which is why the University of Georgia-discovered "fracture putty," which can speed up the healing of bone fractures, is so important. Though it may mean spending time in sweet casts like this one.

The "fracture putty" is, like many of our medical advancements lately, based around the magic of stem cells. The scientists used adult stem cells producing a protein in bone healing and generation, placed it in a gel, and inserted it into rats. In two weeks, there was no evidence of injury.

This is obviously positive for skateboarders and other young ruffians out there, but it's especially important for our men and women of service.

"Complex fractures are a major cause of amputation of limbs for U.S. military men and women," said Steve Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. "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," he said. "This discovery may allow them to be up and moving as fast as days afterward."

The next step involves testing the putty on large animals. Assuming that's successful, it will be ready for human testing. Their funding runs out mid-2012, so they hope to have reached the point of human testing by then.

Stice, though, readily admits the putty isn't necessarily the only path to the goal of healing bones more quickly.

"Our approach is biological with the putty," 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 way or another, knowing who your friends are by who signed your cast could soon be a thing of the past.

Via Medical XPress

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