Growth Factor Promotes Bone Formation Without Accompanying Cancer Risk

New research from Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) reports the discovery of a bone-forming growth factor that reverses osteoporosis in mice and when absent, is associated with accelerated rates of bone loss. The factor, Osteolectin (Clec11a), is produced by certain bone marrow and bone cells. Lead researcher Sean Morrison, PhD, CRI Director, commented “These results demonstrate the important role Osteolectin plays in new bone formation and maintaining adult bone mass. This study opens up the possibility of using this growth factor to treat diseases like osteoporosis.” The findings are published in the journal eLife.

At present, most therapies for osteoporosis including bisphosphonate drugs reduce the rate of bone loss but do not promote new bone growth. An additional therapeutic agent, Teriparatide (PTH), is approved for inducing bone formation, but is also associated with risk for osteosarcoma. In the current study, researchers used mice whose ovaries were removed, simulating the postmenopausal condition favorable to development of osteoporosis. The researchers found that daily injection of recombinant Osteolectin was as effective as PHT in promoting bone growth over untreated controls, and in reversing bone loss following ovary removal. 

Read more about the discovery and its implications here.

The journal article may be read here.

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