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Fractures mended using hormones

Removing bone marrow and injecting hormones could be used to treat fractures, a new report claims.

The innovative technique could potentially heal weakened and broken bones without the need for surgery.

A study on rats, reported in the New Scientist, revealed that after marrow - a spongy material inside the bones that produces stem cells - was removed, new bone formed in the cavity.

While the effects were short-lived in most of the test subject, the new bones continued to grow and become stronger among animals given the drug.

A Yale University team, headed by Agnes Vignery, anaesthetised a group of rats and drilled into the left thigh-bone of each animal in order to syringe out the marrow.

Some of the rats were given daily doses of parathyroid hormone (PTH), which encourages the growth of new bone.

By the third week, marrow began to reappear in most of the rats.

But this did not happen in the rats treated with PTH, with new bone continuing to grow into the third week and no sign of marrow reappearing.

Peter Kay, of the University of Manchester, said: "This sort of minimally invasive technique to replace surgery sounds controversial, but if you can strengthen rats' bones maybe there is potential."

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New Scientist