For those of you unfortunate enough to have broken a bone or two in your life, you will know the long and agonizing amount of time it takes for those bones to heal. Kids that went through this ordeal may remember having all their classmates rushing to sign their casts.
That may no longer be the case. A team of researchers from the University of Georgia have created a “fracture putty” to reduce the healing time of fractured bones.
From left: Steve Stice, Jennifer Mumaw, Erin Jordan and John Peroni, the team developing the “fracture putty”
This new fracture healing putty shortens the bone healing time from months to a mere weeks with the inflicted person being able to get up and move about in a matter of days. The researchers have used adult stem cells since they produce an enzyme which helps in bone formation. The putty was tested on lab rats during its initial stages of development. The rats were injected in fracture sites and a stabilizing device was used to hold the bone in place. The rats showed signs of full recovery within two weeks.
The main objective of the fracture putty is to help soldiers who are more likely to get bones fractured and become mentally affected by the days spent in a hospital bed. The putty was developed for testing on large animals and then transferred to the US Department of Defense to make it suitable for human use.
The fracture putty is only one of the possible methods being researched by scientists to accelerate the bone healing process. Some include completely replacing the broken bone while others are similar to the putty, but use different materials to heal the bone. The diagram below shows the University of Texas’s attempt at healing bones using a putty based on silicone polymers.
With this much work being done on the problem, broken bones may one day, literally, be a thing of the past.