A new study has suggested a novel therapy involving boosting of a key protein to help non-healing bones to heal. This opens possible doors for cases wherein patients suffering from fracture or severe cracks suffer from non-healed bones and hence lower quality of life.
Often pins, plates or a cast are used in case of fractures, but there are cases when the fracture won’t heal properly. Further, use of another restorative tactic known as bone morphogenetic proteins, or BMPs, is increasingly less likely because these molecules can overperform, causing excessive or misdirected bone growth, studies have shown.
Researchers have now examined a new therapeutic approach to involves delivering additional Jagged-1 — a potent osteoinductive protein known to activate the Notch signaling pathway that regulates bone healing — at the spot of a bone injury.
The results, published in npj Regenerative Medicine, affirm that hunch: Rodents that received Jagged-1, applied via wet collagen sponge, saw improvements to skull and femoral bone injuries. Rodents treated with BMPs, by contrast, also benefited but developed the same problematic bone hypertrophy associated with human use of those proteins.
Those findings suggest that the former therapy could one day benefit people.
Although more research and funding are needed before the concept could be tested in humans, researchers says the early results offer some takeaways. Those with serious breaks or fractures that would otherwise require autogenous bone grafting stand to benefit the most from supplemental Jagged-1 injections, he notes. That’s because such grafting, which involves using bone from elsewhere in the body, is a costly surgical procedure that can have secondary problems — and has a higher morbidity risk.
Patients with slow-healing or nonhealing bones might also receive Jagged-1 well after an injury occurs, researchers says. The delivery mechanism, using biomaterials to provide structure for healing, may also be refined.