Quick study: Building bones
THE QUESTION: Will the growth factor OP-1 (a member of a group of naturally occurring bone morphogenetic proteins) encourage new bone formation?
THE BACKGROUND: Previous research has shown that aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDS interfere with healing after a bone fracture or joint implant surgery. Researchers hypothesized that application of the growth factor would reverse such negative affects and spur bone growth.
THE STUDY: The shin bones of rabbits were exposed to OP-1 for six weeks in three different test cases. It was applied to regular bone tissue, bone tissue that had been exposed to oral NSAIDS and bone tissue that had deteriorated due to joint replacements.
THE FINDINGS: The bone weakening caused by NSAIDS was completely reversed by the application of OP-1. In the presence of deterioration from joint replacements, OP-1 increased local bone formation by 38 percent. Infusion of the growth factor also increased the bone growth of normal bone by 80 percent.
WHY IT MATTERS: Millions of people take NSAIDS daily, and many have older joint replacements that have failed due to bone loss caused by tiny particles shed from the joint implants. Infusion of OP-1 may help encourage bone growth, result in improved fracture healing and increase the success rates of joint replacement surgery.
CAVEATS: The study was funded by Stryker Biotech, which researchs, develops and markets OP-1. The high cost of OP-1 is currently restrictive, averaging several thousand dollars per treatment. The researchers have no financial ties to the company.
FIND THIS STUDY: The study was published online Sept. 20 in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research. It is scheduled for future publication in the print edition of the journal.
STANFORD CONNECTION: Stanford researchers on this study include first author Ting Ma, MD, life science research assistant; professors of orthopedic surgery R. Lane Smith, PhD, and senior author Stuart Goodman, MD, PhD.