A team of researchers from Purdue University is developing an injectable drug designed to home in on a bone fracture and accelerate the healing process. A commercial startup called Novosteo has been founded to speed the research through its preclinical phases and into human trials.

Numerous innovations in the medical world have recently proposed ways of accelerating, or enhancing, the bone-healing process following a fracture. From implantable bio-patches to polymer scaffolds, the unifying factor behind all these exciting advances is the need for surgical administration. The big novelty with Novosteo's proposed drug is that it can be administered via an injection.

"When we inject this drug systemically, it will circulate throughout the entire body but only accumulate at the fracture site," says Stewart Low, one of the founders of Novosteo. "Because of this, we're potentially able to bypass any side effects and give patients drugs that would otherwise be too potent to administer. Essentially, doctors will be able to give higher drug doses and have reduced patient side effects."

At this stage specific details, such as the how the drug works, or at what rate it speeds up bone healing, are notably unclear. Low states that preclinical studies have, "shown that we can dramatically speed up and improve the fracture healing process," but the drug has not moved into any official clinical trial yet, so time will tell if it works as broadly, and safely, as is currently claimed.

A simple injectable agent that zeroes in on a bone fracture and rapidly speeds up its healing is an exciting proposal, though. It's an idea that could benefit a broad range of people, including athletes needing to get back on the field as quickly as possible and senior citizens who suffer significant dangers from bone fractures late in life. Low says the team is initially interested in targeting the drug to those elderly patients in particular.

"We plan to focus initially on hip fractures in the elderly. We believe this is an area of underdevelopment and concern, so our goal is to help provide a better solution for these patients."