Bone Growth Drug Targets Back Pain
Many elderly people experience back pain from osteoporosis and serious bone fractures. But what if frail bones could grow stronger — as strong as new bone? That’s the idea behind site-directed bone growth (SDBG). A patient with diseased or damaged vertebrae undergoes a minimally invasive outpatient procedure and receives an anabolic drug to accelerate natural bone growth at precise locations. The strengthened bone, in turn, lessens the back pain.
“The novel idea is to target new bone to specific sites,” says Agnès Vignery, PhD, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Yale University Medical School who developed SDBG with clinicians at Unigene Laboratories in Fairfield, New Jersey. “Most drugs affect the whole body. But our treatment increases bone mass just where it’s needed.”
Already, investigators have demonstrated success with SDBG in experiments involving mice and rats. In 2005 the Unigene team filed for patents, with plans to start clinical trials involving humans in the next two years. And though Vignery refuses to speculate how soon the therapy may be ready for people, she’s excited about SDBG’s potential to remedy a wide array of ailments.
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