London: A segment of the protein statherin, normally found in the formation of enamel, which is an important component of teeth, can be used to signal bone growth, says a study.
Patients suffering from osteoporosis or bone fractures might benefit from this new discovery.
"What is surprising and encouraging about this research is that we can now use this particular molecule to signal cells and enhance bone growth within the body," said co-author Alvaro Mata from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in Britain.
The researchers created bioactive membranes made from segments of different proteins to show which protein in particular played the crucial role.
They demonstrated the bone stimulating effect in a rat model, and used analytical techniques to visualise and measure the newly formed calcified tissue.
"The benefit of creating a membrane of proteins using these molecules means it can be both bioactive and easily handled to apply over injured areas in the bone," Co-author Esther Tejeda-Montes, also from QMUL, added.
"Our work enables the possibility to create robust synthetic bone grafts that can be tuned to stimulate the natural regenerative process, which is limited in most synthetic bone graft alternatives," Mata noted.
The study appeared in the journal Biomaterials.