Bioengineers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have identified a tooth protein that plays a significant role in bone regeneration. This is good news for individuals diagnosed with osteoporosis or suffering from bone fractures as the discovery might prove very beneficial for them.
The protein is called statherin and is typically present in the formation of enamel, an important component of teeth. The researchers found that a partial segment of this protein may be successfully used to signal bone growth.
What is exciting and surprising about the research is that it allows the use of this particular molecule to signal cells and boost bone growth in the body, said study co-author Dr Alvaro Mata from QMUL´s School of Engineering and Materials Science and the Institute of Bioengineering.
In order to identify the specific protein responsible for the regeneration, the researchers formed bioactive membranes which were made from segments of different proteins. The team managed to demonstrate the protein´s positive effects in an experiment with rats. Moreover, they made use of analytical techniques in order to visualise and measure the newly formed calcified tissue.
Use of these molecules for the creation of a protein membrane has the benefit of producing a bioactive membrane that can be easily applied to injured bone areas, according to co-author Dr Esther Tejada-Montes of QUML´s School of Engineering and Materials Science.
The work performed by the research team has the potential to enable the creation of robust synthetic bone grafts, Dr Mata added. Moreover, the grafts could be tuned to stimulate the natural regenerative bone process, which is limited in many of the traditional synthetic bone graft options, Dr Mata concluded.