The quest for new osteoporosis treatments

Friday, 22 December, 2023

The quest for new osteoporosis treatments

A study to be undertaken by Mater researchers may yield some new ways to treat osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis — a disease in which the skeleton becomes fragile and prone to fracture — is one of Australia’s most common chronic diseases, affecting more than 1.2 million people.

Half of all women over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related bone fracture, and a quarter of those who suffer a hip fracture are likely to die within six months.

The National Health and Medical Research Council announced that it will award more than $1.58m to Mater Research to conduct the largest genetic association study of bone mineral density on hundreds of thousands of individuals.

Dr John Kemp, Mater Research’s Musculoskeletal Genomics Group Leader, said medicines used to treat osteoporosis can slow bone loss, and in some cases partially restore lost bone. However, a cure for osteoporosis has not yet been found.

“Osteoporosis remains a major health burden for society and considerable scope exists to identify and develop new therapeutics that can restore lost bone,” Kemp said.

“Development of new therapeutics for osteoporosis has been hampered by a limited understanding of the genes that control bone, as well as the different cell types in which they function.

“Our study is likely to identify cellular and genetic mechanisms that control bone and prioritise those that can be targeted by new therapeutics to restore the structural integrity of bone.”

Kemp’s team will also develop a web-based platform that will allow the international research community to explore their data.

“Knowledge sharing is key to accelerating the development of new therapeutics for osteoporosis,” he said.

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