Fungus Toxin Triggers Stem Cells to Become Bone
Imagine you’re riding your bike and an unseen tree root sends you flying over the handlebars. You stick an arm out to break your fall, except the force is too much. The bones in your forearm snap like a twig.
A trip to the hospital means you’ll either get a cast or surgery to realign the broken bones so that they can heal properly. Afterwards, it can take up to six months before the bones fully recover. Now, though, University of North Carolina School of Medicine doctors say there might be something on the horizon to significantly decrease the time it takes for bones to reform after injury.
In an unexpected find, they watched a toxin called cytochalasin D (CytoD), which is produced by certain molds, cause stem cells to transform into new bone cells. The process can be seen in the gif above, with a stem cell exposed to CytoD beginning the process of turning into a bone cell. After seeing this change occur in cultured cells, Dr. Janet Rubin and colleagues injected it into mouse shinbones, where they witnessed “abundant bone formation” after just one week.