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Targeted Approach

Bone fracture treatment better targeted with the blood thinner heparin

21 January 2020

Targeted Approach

Commonly used to facilitate bone repair in large fractures, bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) boosts bone production, but the large doses required also cause problems, particularly unwanted bone growth in nearby tissues. Several methods have been employed to restrict BMP-2 to specific areas, by attaching it to a collagen scaffold or embedding it in biomaterials with proteins that bind to BMP-2, but with limited success, as the right balance of release and restriction is difficult to strike. Here, researchers propose a new technique, attaching BMP-2 to microparticles of heparin, a polysaccharide often used as a blood thinner, or anticoagulant. Tests on bone defects in the femur of rats (pictured, with heparin particles in red) found that bone growth was better restricted to the correct area when using heparin microparticles. While further issues need to be addressed, this method could open up a promising path towards more targeted bone repair.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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