McGill Researchers Find Key To Calcification

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Calcification In Bones

McGill University researchers have proven the existence of a mechanism that controls calcification in bones, teeth and other bodily tissues.

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This discovery that could lead to new ways of treating defective calcification in skeletal and dental disease, and in a host of other ailments such as cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

The team, led by Dr. Marc McKee, Professor of Dentistry and of Anatomy and Cell Biology, has demonstrated that a small molecule called pyrophosphate (PPi) not only blocks calcification (mineralization) by direct binding to mineral crystals, but also by increasing tissue levels of osteopontin, a protein that performs a similar inhibitory function. PPi also blocks the activity of an enzyme, called alkaline phosphatase, capable of releasing phosphate from organic sources to bind with calcium to harden tissues. Their findings appear in the May 25 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) Online.

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