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Aspirin May Help Form New Bone

In 1899, German doctors and pharmacists began receiving the first of the sample packets from the drug company Bayer AG. The packets contained a fluffy white powder, called acetylsalicylic acid, which Bayer executives described as the latest modern miracle from the emerging field of organic chemistry. They asked the practitioners, in modern terms, to pilot test the compound on their patients, explaining that it had been shown in their initial human studies to relieve common pain and inflammation without the debilitating side effects of other drugs. But, as they also explained, other uses certainly weren’t out of the picture. Bayer encouraged the practitioners to publish their results and, in a sign of 20th century things to come, to refer to the new drug by its trade name: Aspirin.
More than 110 years later, researchers continue to discover new uses for Aspirin. In an issue of Nature Medicine, National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) scientists and grantees report in mouse studies that Aspirin, applied directly to the site of an experimental skull wound, helps bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs) form new bone. Aspirin does so by reducing the concentration of immune cell signaling proteins interferon-gamma (INF-γ) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) in the tissue microenvir0nment, where the wound healing occurs. By jamming these specific wavelengths of molecular communication, the scientists found they could control certain types of T cells that inhibit the implanted BMMSCs from forming new bone. Importantly, Aspirin has no negative effects on other T cells subtypes that the researchers found are helpful to engineer new bone. The researchers concluded, “Although Aspirin reduces TNF-α and INF-γ production with improved BMMSC-based tissue regeneration, the therapeutic effect of Aspirin in preclinical tests and clinical trials (for example, in improving fracture healing) may be the focus of future studies.”
(Source: NIDCR, Science News in Brief, February 13, 2012)

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