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‘Biological’ medicines accelerate bone healing

Broken bones heal faster when treated with new ‘biological’ medicines, as shown in a new thesis at Linköping University - the hundredth from Forum Scientium.

When damaged bone tissue heals, a signal path called Wnt signalling is activated in the cells. Fredrik Agholme, doctoral student in orthopaedics, has studied how healing is affected by antibody-based medicines against two proteins that inhibit the signalling.

“The proteins sclerostin and dickkopf-1 are part of regulating the natural system for bone healing. There has to be both a gas and a brake for new bone to be created in the proper amount,” he says.

In his project, he wanted to study how healing could be sped up through temporarily easing up on the brake. Animal testing showed it worked. Treatment with antibodies against both sclerostin and dickkopf-1 led to increased bone formation and improved healing.

The trials were conducted on spongy bone, the kind of bone tissue found nearest the joints in the hip, the wrist, and the vertebrae. This is where most fractures occur, especially in older women and men with osteoporosis. Healing often takes a long time and can be painful.

“A medicine that shortens healing times would give these patients better quality of life,” Agholme says.

His studies now form the foundation for future study on humans.

Agholme will be the hundredth doctor from the Forum Scientium school of research, eleven years after Helena Theander (Amandusson) became the first. The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) has supported the research school since 2008 and can now boast 65 doctoral students.

Text: Åke Hjelm

Thesis: Wnt-signaling and metaphyseal bone healing.
The defence took place on Friday, October 14th at 13:00 in Nils Holger Hall, Campus US, Linköping University.
His examiner was Professor Lars Nordsletten of Oslo University.




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Last updated: 2019-04-15