After more than 15 years of research, doctors at the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Montreal believe they have discovered a previously unsuspected natural way to heal fractures faster.
“It’s a great feeling of pride,” says Dr. René St-Arnaud, who will publish the results of his research to heal fractures more efficiently and quickly with vitamin D, in the American journal Journal of Clinical Investigation .
He cherishes the hope that his discovery will help not only his young patients, but also the frail elderly and even the 11 million people who break a bone each year in North America.
Fractures can take months to heal. Even worse, in 10% of cases, they never heal properly. For patients with bone diseases, up to 40% of fractures leave sequelae.
However, a natural vitamin D compound, which our skin produces when exposed to the sun, accelerates the healing of fractures, says Dr. St-Arnaud.
This compound is created when our body absorbs and transforms vitamin D. Scientists have long believed that it was only an inactive residue, says the researcher.
But by isolating and combining it with an enzyme, Dr. St-Arnaud determined that it promotes healing by making the bone callus, which surrounds a fracture, stronger.
For now, tests on mice have shown its effectiveness. He hopes to start soon the first tests on patients.
“The beauty [of the discovery] is that it could go faster,” he says about upcoming clinical trials at the hospital.
“Since [vitamin D] is a natural compound, we are quite convinced that there will be no risks and side effects [for patients],” says the researcher, thus reducing the potential pitfalls.
“We always hope that our discoveries will be able to benefit the patients,” he adds, about the dream he has been stroking since he first came up with the idea in 1999 to search the compounds of the vitamin D.
According to him, faster-healing compounds could be isolated and simply transformed into a tablet in the near future.