Public Release: 

$1.7 million SBIR grant fast-tracks bone fracture healing

Injectable drug that could heal broken bones faster and strengthen weak bones moves to pre-clinical work

Purdue University


IMAGE: Novosteo, a Purdue-affiliated startup, is advancing a technology shown to repair bone fractures faster and at greater benefit to a patient. The image above shows fractured femurs at four weeks... view more 

Credit: Philip Low/Novosteo

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A broken bone is challenging for anyone at any age, but for the elderly it can be life threatening. In fact, the Journal of Internal Medicine reported in 2017 that "one in three adults aged 50 and older die within 12 months" from fracture-related complications following a bone-breaking fall. Medicare alone paid $31 billion in hip fracture treatment in 2015.

A $1.7 million National Science Foundation SBIR Phase I/II grant to a Purdue University-affiliated startup will help fast-track to human trials a novel injectable-targeted drug that shows great promise in accelerating and improving the healing of broken or compromised bones. The drug is unique in that it concentrates at the fracture site following systemic administration while reducing exposure to the rest of the body.

The grant will support the drugs' efficacy testing and preparation for Phase 1 clinical human trials.

Novosteo Inc., the startup developing the drug, was co-founded by father/son team Philip S. Low, the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and Stewart A. Low, a postdoctoral staff member in Purdue's Department of Chemistry. Eli Lilly pharma vet Dan Hasler serves as president of Novosteo.

"There is a compelling need for this type of targeted treatment. Hip fractures alone are expected to climb by 160 percent to 500,000 fractures annually by 2040," said Stewart Low. "Even with current medical therapies, the odds of making a full recovery are wholly unsatisfactory. Our goal is to provide a better solution for those who suffer and help them more quickly regain their mobility, significantly decreasing the life-threatening complications that besiege those immobilized by their fracture."

Novosteo has already completed preclinical studies that successfully demonstrate how the new targeted drug heals bone fractures faster and better than the same untargeted drug. The research findings were published in the June edition of the Department of Defense Spotlight article "Fracture-targeted drugs for accelerated bone repair," authored by Philip Low and Stewart Low.

"The ligand/ PtH combination's ability to attach itself to the site of a bone fracture is an important attribute that makes it hopefully superior to non-targeted options." Phil Low said. "Currently, the only clinically approved bone fracture healing drug must be applied locally during surgery, where the pharmaceutical is painted directly onto the broken bone. This is an invasive process, and one we're trying to avoid."

Hasler said, "This targeted medicine could also have a large human and economic impact. Healing a hip fracture can cost over $80,000 from start to finish, including nursing home costs, but frankly, we are motivated by the hope of reducing the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of hip fracture patients annually. It is the face of my grandmother, who died after a long post-hip fracture fight that motivates me."

"Dan has helped significantly in guiding the direction and development of Novosteo, and I don't believe we would be where we are today without Dan's experience in the pharmacology field and in startup creation," Low said.

Novosteo is already looking at using the injectable-targeted drug for other uses.

"We believe the targeted medicine may also have applications in dental implants, head and facial fractures, hip and knee replacements and complicated hard-to-heal nonunion or complex fractures and possibly spinal fractures." Low said.

Novosteo is a recipient of an Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund Black Award. Novosteo operates out of Purdue's Discovery Park District in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The technology aligns with Purdue's giant leaps celebration, recognizing the university's global advancements made in health, space, artificial intelligence and sustainability as part of Purdue's 150th anniversary. Those are the four themes of the yearlong celebration's Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.

Novosteo's technology is licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. The company also received entrepreneurial support from Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship for helping with the commercialization process.


About Novosteo Inc.

Novosteo was founded to reduce the morbidity, mortality and loss of productivity associated with bone fractures. Based on discoveries of agents that accelerate bone regeneration and breakthroughs in methods to target these agents selectively to fracture surfaces, Novosteo has designed a series of fracture-targeted drugs that concentrate a drug's healing power specifically at the fracture site, thereby greatly accelerating and improving the healing process. The mission of Novosteo is to reduce the debilitating and often life-threatening effects of bone fractures.

About National Institutes of Health

As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences, NIH is the largest biomedical research agency in the world. Research reported in this news release was supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44DE028713. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340,

Sources: Stewart Low,

Philip Low,

Dan Hasler,

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