Compound may improve bone strength, health

Aug. 17, 2011 at 8:33 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- An Indiana University scientist has received a grant to study a chemical compound to fight osteoporosis and accelerate broken bone healing, the school says.

Hiroki Yokota, a professor of biomedical engineering, has been given a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to investigate a chemical compound called salubrinal -- originally developed to encourage insulin production in individuals with diabetes -- for its effect on human bone strength and growth, an IU release said Wednesday.

Early studies have found weakened bones treated with salubrinal show a statistically significant increase in strength, as well as accelerated healing in bones that have been fractured.

"As a mechanical engineer, I was originally exploring mechanical stimulation, which is similar to exercise, to strengthen bones," Yokota said. "But by studying these mechanisms, I came across a molecular pathway that became the beginning of this discovery."

Older populations are susceptible to weakened and broken bones as aging cells are no longer able to produce sufficient levels of collagen, the protein from which bones derive their strength, he said.

Salubrinal prevents this cellular decline by strengthening the body's "protein-producing machinery," which creates collagen and keeps bones strong.

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