Engineering Bone Growth

Researchers at HHMI are working on another way to stimulate bone growth - a potential strategy to treat osteoporosis: "slightly increasing the activity of a protein called NFATc1 causes massive bone accumulation ... Mice with the hyperactive NFATc in their osteoblasts had an immense increase in bone mass compared to normal mice, suggesting that the balance between bone formation and breakdown had tipped. ... The results were dramatic, yet the molecular alteration is very, very minimal ... NFATc1 in the mice that developed extra bone mass was only 10 percent more active than it is in normal mice. ... If you could find a small molecule that would flip 10 percent of the existing NFATc into the active form, you could favor the formation of osteoblasts and make stronger bones."



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