Researchers at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute found that a specific genetic variation could be associated with a decreased ability in new bone tissue production and higher susceptibility to bone remodeling-suppressing drugs, leading to osteoporosis. The study was funded by the Texas Biomedical Forum, the Texas Biomed Founder’s Council, the San Antonio Area Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and published in the November issue of the Calcified Tissue International.
Osteoporosis is caused by excessive functioning of body’s bone remodeling: old bone tissues are removed from the skeleton faster than production of new bone tissues. Patients with osteoporosis typically take bone remodeling suppression drugs such as bisphosphorates to slow bone remodeling, but some negative results have been reported: a small percentage of older women show a distinct type of fracture when they take the drugs.
In a study led by Lorena M. Havill, Ph.D. at Texas Biomedical Research Institute and colleagues at the Southwest Research Institute and Indiana University, researchers examined the femurs of baboons that were housed at Southwest National Primate Research Center and had died due to reasons unrelated to the study. They observed the samples through microscopes and found that the dynamics of bone-remodeling were different among animals and it was related to inherited differences of the gene.
“Baboons are anatomically and physiologically very similar to humans, and these animals live a long time, so they develop many of the same age-related diseases that we do,” Havill said. “This makes them a good model for age-related diseases such as osteoporosis. The results of this study suggest an explanation for why some women respond differently to the widely prescribed bisphosphonates.”
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Havill commented further: “This supports the potential for a scenario in which certain individuals who are genetically predisposed to cortical microstructure that is less mechanically advantageous may experience disadvantages responses to remodeling suppression, such as being at higher risk for atypical femoral fractures.”
Texas Biomed, formerly the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing global human health through innovative biomedical research. Located on a 200-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas, the Institute partners with hundreds of researchers and institutions around the world, targeting advances in the fight against emerging infectious diseases, AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, parasitic infections and a host of other diseases, as well as cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, obesity, cancer, psychiatric disorders, and problems of pregnancy.