Targeting blood vessel growth to improve bone repair

Disease - Osteonecrosis, osteopetrosis, osteoporosis

Lead applicant - Dr Claire Clarkin

Organisation - University of Southampton

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £142,327.34

Start date - 1 October 2015

Reference - 20984

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aim of this research is to investigate the role of a blood vessel attracting molecule, called Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), in bone loss during osteoporosis.

Why is this research important?

Bones need a good blood supply to deliver the oxygen and nutrients which keep them healthy. Reduced blood supply is associated with bone loss during osteoporosis and may contribute to the fragility and fracturing of bones during the disease. In adult bone, it is not yet clear how the establishment and maintenance of an appropriate blood supply is controlled. Recent research indicates that bone-forming cells called osteoblasts produce VEGF to attract blood vessels and, hence, oxygen and nutrients in to bone.

Osteoblasts in the bones of patients with osteoporosis have been found to produce lower than normal levels of VEGF, so the blood vessels in their bones do not function normally. This may explain why their bones of do not heal well after a fracture. This research could identify the blood vessels as a new route to treat osteoporotic bone loss and improve fracture healing.

How will the findings benefit patients?

This research will establish the importance of the blood vessels in the development of osteoporosis, and will identify whether the addition of VEGF into fracture sites via stem cells can improve fracture healing and blood vessel formation in adult/aged bones. If successful, this may eventually lead to new treatments for osteoporosis.