Bone Growth According to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a drug that was originally used to treat iron poisoning can in fact significantly boost the body’s own ability to heal and re-grow injured bones.

The researchers injected the drug called deferoxamine (DF) which reduces iron overload, into injured bones of mice. They found that DF triggered the growth of new blood vessels which in turn kicked off bone re-growth and healing.

Findings on this cell pathway have broad implications for improving treatment of bone fractures, bone disease and other musculoskeletal disorders, said Shawn Gilbert, M.D., an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery in the UAB School of Medicine, and Chao Wan, M.D.
Ph.D., an instructor in the UAB Department of Pathology, both co-authors on the study.

“With DF activating this pathway, we’ve proven a significant point – it is possible to explore new, safe and more affordable ways kick-start bone repair,” Gilbert said.

“Current treatments use complex proteins, which are expensive to make and cost thousands of dollars per dose. The type of agent used in this study is a simple, small molecule drug that costs hundreds, not thousands,” Gilbert said.

“The results from this study are a milestone for future studies looking at other compounds and agents to improve new-blood-vessel growth in skeletal and other tissues that need adequate blood supply to regenerate,” Wan said.