Fractures can heal better and faster if the bone marrow is removed from the broken bones that are to be united, a new study by Yale University researchers has found.
The study led by Agnes Vignery has shown that ejecting some bone marrow and using drugs to promote new bone growth can rapidly heal weakened or broken bones.
For the study, researchers anaesthetised a group of rats and drilled into the left thigh-bone of each rat before removing the marrow with a syringe.
Few rats were also given daily doses of parathyroid hormone (PTH), a drug that helps in bone growth.
The X-rays of the rats revealed that new bone had begun to grow in the bone marrow cavity.
Though the new bone was short-lived in most rats, by the third week, marrow reappeared and any new bone cells were reabsorbed to make room.
However among the rats treated with PTH, the new bone grew constantly in the cavity and the marrow did not reappear.
Moreover, the de-marrowed thighbones of the rats receiving PTH were stronger than other legs, and the legs of rats not treated with PTH.
Vignery said that their findings suggest that bone marrow usually inhibits the formation of new bone, reports New Scientist magazine.
"At first glance this appears counter-intuitive since bone marrow generates the stem cells that would usually help repair bones. However, periosteum cells in the membrane that lines the outside of bones also have regenerative powers," said Brendon Noble at the University of Edinburgh, UK.
"Perhaps they are sufficient to take on the role," he added.
According to Warren Levy of Unigene Laboratories, in Fairfield, New Jersey the technique can revolutionize the way patients are treated, specifically with hip fractures.