Gene therapy, microbubbles and ultrasound help heal broken bones

A new technique offers an easier way to heal intractable fractures.

New research demonstrates in pigs a technique for healing so-called nonunion bone fractures that the body is unable to heal itself. At present, a difficult and painful bone graft is required.

The new method patches the break with a collagen scaffold for bone progenitor cells to grow in, then injects microbubbles mixed with genetic material that produces a bone growth factor, then treats the area with ultrasound pulses that encourage uptake of the bone growth factor by the body’s bone progenitor cells.

In research published in Science Translational Medicine, Maxim Bez and colleagues found that the non-union fractures were healed completely in 8 weeks, and traces of the genetic material that produced the bone growth factor had also disappeared.

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