Narrator: This is Science Today. Although broken bones usually repair themselves completely in a matter of weeks, there are about five to ten percent of cases in which the bones can take months or even years to heal. In early laboratory studies, Jill Helms, a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco found that a protein known to stimulate blood vessel growth, or angiogenesis, can also help in bone repair.
Helms: We know that one of the most essential features of bone development is the angiogenesis, or the formation of vasculature. Bone is one of the most vascular tissues in the body.
Narrator: Helms' group discovered a single protein called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, could successfully stimulate hard-to-heal bones.
Helms: I think it suggests an avenue of very productive research, where we may be able to study non-unions or delayed unions in people one day, by using a mechanism like this to induce angiogenesis and therefore, bone repair.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.