Scientific Advances
Natural compound speeds bone growth
Astronomers spy massive stars in the making
Frog gene map a leap forward for humans
Sun-shy mums may raise MS risk in babies
Soft fossils provide new target for ET search
Mammoth blood brought back to life
Outdoor exercise can boost self esteem
Athletes on growth hormone 'sprint faster'
Countdown begins to 520 day 'Mars mission'
Warmer planet to stress humans: study
Plasma rocket to shorten space voyages
Vaccine may trigger infant epilepsy onset
'Fingerprinting' points to dusty Australia
The hole in the ozone layer: 25 years on
Humans interbred with Neanderthals: analysis
Herschel shows star formation is slowing
Washing hands makes tough choices easier
'Face-book' to measure pain in mice
Science gives clues to World Cup success
Human sigh acts as a reset button
Expert confirms Phar Lap arsenic theory
Dictionary blunder a matter of gravity
Warning on high-dose vitamin D
Calling mum makes you feel better
Natural compound speeds bone growth
A protein produced naturally by the body can speed up bone growth and may offer a route to fixing fractures more quickly, researchers report.

They found the protein, known as Wnt, sends a signal that activates bone stem cells to make new bone, and say the finding could also improve bone grafts.

While the findings were tested in mice, humans and mice have the same biology in this area.

"We believe our strategy has the therapeutic potential to accelerate and improve tissue healing in a variety of contexts," says Dr Jill Helms of Stanford University in California, who led the study that appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Scientists have known for a long time that many animal species use Wnt to regenerate tissue. But it is hard to work with and will not dissolve in water.

Helms and colleagues found a way to implant pieces of genetically enhanced Wnt protein in little bubbles of a fatty material called liposomes.

"This allowed us to start testing its activity in animals," says Helms.

When they drilled holes in the bones of sedated mice and injected the Wnt liposomes, the Wnt caused bone stem cells at the injury site to divide and mature into bone-forming cells faster, the researchers found.

"Skeletal defects treated with liposomal Wnt healed faster," they write. Mice treated with Wnt had 3.5 times more new bone after three days than other nice.
More than bone

Other tissues use Wnt to regenerate, too, they say. "Wnts are implicated in the repair of multiple organs and tissues."

They plan to test their approach in treating skin wounds, strokes and heart attacks.

"After stroke and heart attack, we heal the injuries slowly and imperfectly, and the resulting scar tissue lacks functionality," says Helms.

"Using Wnt may one day allow us to regenerate tissue without scarring."

Climate change impact on malaria questioned
Single lens glasses can help prevent falls
Movies manipulate our primal response
Luminescent sharks become invisible
Synthetic biology research gets a hearing
Source of ancient carbon 'burp' detected
Why the goddess of love is in a spin
Computer program recognises online sarcasm
New dinosaur had record-sized horns
Physicists solve missing neutrino mystery
Milk from grass-fed cows may be better
Crabs caught spying on rivals' love claws
Lifestyle may not boost breast cancer gene risk
'Trade-off' gene for plants discovered
Pacific islands growing, not sinking
Caffeine addicts get no real perk
Velvet worm's deadly slime revealed
SpaceX cleared for Florida lift-off
Cyborg rights 'need debating now'
Sunlight shines on silver technology
Mountain biking as risky as football, diving
Dusty simulations may reveal planets
Legal fight over breast cancer gene
Unions call for urgent nano information
Solar panel attraction deadly for insects
Meat eaters munched many ways: study
Snakes may be in decline worldwide
Dogs dumbed down by domestication
Fossil sheds new light on 'dino-bird'
DNA 'spiderbot' is on the prowl
GM cotton use increases fruit pest problem
Warming to kill off a fifth of all lizards
Super massive black hole given the boot
Ball lightning could be 'all in the mind'
Immune system could be used to test for TB
Mobile phone cancer link unclear, study
Teen brain wired to take risks
Synchrotron probes Egyptian beads
Argonauts 'gulp' air to swim freely
Space station gets a new room
'Digital genome' to protect dying data formats
Sweep yields leads for new malaria drugs
Researchers snap signs of illegal fishing
Spectrum reveals supernova surprise
Scientists create synthetic life
Eavesdropping a waste of energy
Star caught eating its offspring
Megafauna die-off may have cooled planet
Hepatitis C no longer 'death sentence'
Atoms bring quantum computing closer
Visualisation staves off constant craving
Experts debate homeopathy funding
Visit Statistics