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Amniotic fluid can strengthen brittle bones

Thursday 22nd December 2016
Scientists have discovered that amniotic fluid has the potential to strengthen peoples bones. Image: endopack via iStock
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    The amniotic fluid that surrounds a baby in the womb could have bone-strengthening capabilities, meaning people with brittle bone conditions such as osteoporosis may experience fewer fractures and breaks in the future.

    This is according to new research carried out by doctors from Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London, who injected amniotic fluid into mice with poor bone strength in order to investigate the effects this had on their skeletons.

    It was found that the fluid that surrounds an unborn baby in the womb actually went some way towards reversing the symptoms of brittle bone disease - or osteogenesis imperfecta, to give it its scientific name - which aside from weak bones, can also include fragile teeth, growth problems and impaired hearing. Approximately one in every 25,000 people in the UK have this condition, with affected babies often being born with multiple fractures.

    Yet by injecting amniotic fluid into the bloodstream, the strength, plasticity and structure of bones was found to improve.

    As a result, the number of bone fractures mice experienced decreased by around one-fifth, indicating that this treatment method has the potential to strengthen the skeleton and dramatically reduce the number of breaks and fractures that radiographers have to deal with each year.

    What's more, this innovative treatment could also lower the number of deaths related to brittle bone disease, as people's bones should be less likely to fracture or break following the injection of amniotic fluid.

    Speaking to BBC News, lead author of the study Dr Pascale Guillot said: "I am extremely excited because this is a major breakthrough that will potentially affect everyone. We are already used to putting cream on our face to slow down ageing of the skin - this will be the same for the skeleton.

    "I think in the next few years we will have ways to slow down the ageing of our skeleton to reduce fractures and pain."

    She added that the discovery could also have significant benefits for people who have travelled into space, as the lack of G-force causes the bones to become increasingly fragile.

    Written by Megan Smith

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