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Keywords:

  • bone morphogenetic protein;
  • failed fracture healing;
  • non-union;
  • osteoinduction;
  • pseudoarthrosis

The role of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) in bone healing has been shown in numerous animal models. To date, at least 20 BMPs have been identified, some of which have been shown in vitro to stimulate the process of stem cell differentiation into osteoblasts in human and animal models. Having realized the osteoinductive properties of BMPs and having identified their genetic sequences, recombinant gene technology has been used to produce BMPs for clinical application – most commonly, as alternatives or adjuncts in the treatment of cases in which fracture healing is compromised. BMP-2 and BMP-7 are approved for clinical use in open fractures of long bones, non-unions and spinal fusion. However, despite significant evidence of their potential benefit to bone repair and regeneration in animal and preclinical studies, there is, to date, a dearth of convincing clinical trials. The purpose of this paper is to give a brief overview of BMPs and to critically review the clinical data currently available on the use of BMP-2 and BMP-7 in fracture healing.