Researchers at the McGill University have discovered a protein that can control bone growth, opening up the prospect of developing new treatments for bone diseases.
The research led by Dr. Pierre Moffatt of the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal unveiled a molecular mechanism by which osteocrin, a small protein produced by the body's bone-forming cells, or osteoblasts, can control bone growth.
The study was conducted on genetically engineered mice to over express osteocrin developed hunchbacks and elongated bones.
The findings revealed that osteocrin locally controlled the bone's supply of a hormone known as CNP, which plays an important role in the regulation of bone growth.
Dr. Moffatt said the research may help in developing new drug-based therapies.
"The osteocrin gene was discovered as part of a project to identify novel bone genes that might have possible therapeutic actions," said Dr. Moffatt.
"The project focused on the identification of classes of genes which are particularly attractive to medical researchers because they can be potentially exploited to develop new drug-based therapies," he added.
He further said that the research could also pave the way to the rationalized design of new molecules that can have beneficial effects in various disorders that impair bone growth, particularly in children.
The study appears in the December 14 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.