A team of scientists at the Little one’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) found out a new bone-forming growth factor, Osteolectin ( Clec11a ), which reverses osteoporosis in mice and it has implications for regenerative medicine.

Although Osteolectin is known to be made by certain bone marrow and bone cells, CRI researchers are the first to demonstrate Osteolectin promotes the formation of new bone from skeletal stem cells in the bone marrow. The study, published within eLife , also available that deletion of Osteolectin in mice causes more rapid bone loss during adulthood and symptoms of osteoporosis, like reduced bone strength and delayed fracture healing.

“These results demonstrate the important role Osteolectin performs in new bone formation and maintaining adult bone fragments mass. This study opens up the possibility of using this growth aspect to treat diseases like osteoporosis, ” said Dr . Sean Morrison, who led the team that made the particular discovery. Dr . Morrison, CRI Director, holds the Jane McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics at LACE Southwestern Medical Center, and the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Recognized Chair in Pediatric Research at Children’s Research Start at UT Southwestern.

Osteoporosis, a modern bone disease characterized by decreased bone mass and a boost in fractures, affects over 200 million people globally. Most existing therapies such as bisphosphonate drugs reduce the price of bone loss, but they do not promote new bone tissue growth. Teriparatide (PTH) is the only agent currently accepted for the formation of new bone, but its use is limited in order to two years due to a potential risk of osteosarcoma.

To determine whether treatment with Osteolectin could reverse bone tissue loss after the onset of osteoporosis, the CRI study team used mice that had their ovaries eliminated to model the type of osteoporosis that develops in postmenopausal women. Mice were given daily injections of PTH or even recombinant Osteolectin. The study found that both recombinant Osteolectin- and PTH-treated mice had significantly increased bone quantity compared to untreated mice. Both treatments effectively reversed the particular bone loss that occurred after the removal of the ovaries.

“These early results are encouraging, suggesting Osteolectin might one day be an useful therapeutic option for osteoporosis and regenerative medicine, ” said Dr . Morrison, also a Teacher of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern, a CPRIT College student in Cancer Research, and a Howard Hughes Medical Company Investigator.

Researchers in the Hamon Laboratory designed for Stem Cell and Cancer Biology, of which Dr . Morrison is the principal investigator, plan to further test Osteolectin’s healing potential and to identify the receptor for Osteolectin, that is key to understanding the signaling mechanisms the protein utilizes to promote osteogenesis.

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