A team at Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal has made a discovery that could lead to broken bones healing better and faster.

Every year, about 1 million Canadians break a bone, and if it doesn’t heal correctly, it can cause problems down the line and increase the likelihood of another fracture.

The 15-year-long research project could change the way fractures are mended.

“There’s 10 per cent of fractures that don’t heal properly. Over the number of traumatic fractures that can happen during a year, it’s a significant number of fractures,” said Dr. Rene St-Arnaud, director of research at the Shriners.

For those with brittle bone disease the rate is four times higher.

Souleiman Ayoub has had at least 19 fractures since the age of 7.

“It’s lifelong and I still break my bones often,” he said.

Arnaud and his team have discovered that a form of Vitamin D in our bodies called Dihydroxy 24,25 may be a solution.

There’s a certain form of Vitamin D, one of the molecules that happen as Vitamin D, circulates in our body and for the longest time people thought it had no biological activity,” he said.

The team found, however, that when it binds to a special enzyme, it forms a waxy compound that creates the right properties for a fracture to heal.

After rigorous lab tests, they found it works. The results will be featured in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The next step is clinical trials, but St-Arnaud said because the compound is already found in the body, the risks are low.

“It is a derivative of Vitamin D, so the safety of it is already established and we will be able to move on to the next step more rapidly than for other types of discoveries,” he explained.

Eventually, this isolated compound could be made into a pill – something that could help everyone from children to the elderly.

“We can synthesize it in the laboratory and it can be produced chemically and it could be made into a pill or composition the patients could take and heal better,” the doctor said.

Ayoub said it’s great news.

“I think it might help a lot of future generations and it also might help me not break my bones that often,” he said.