1 March : In a key breakthrough, scientists claim to have discovered a pill which can reverse the effects of osteoporosis by healing brittle bones.
An international team has claimed that the once-a- day drug, LP533401, can make brittle bones strong again and if taken for six weeks, it can cure osteoporosis in certain cases and stop it developing in others.
Importantly, and unlike most of the osteoporosis drugs already in use, the new pill actually builds new bone, rather than simply slowing the breakdown of old bone.At present, only one drug, teriparatide, builds new bone, but it has to be injected. But the new drug could be given in pill form, making it a much more attractive option, the scientists say.
The tests were carried out on animals but the team says that the treatment could one day help humans with fragile bones.
“With tens of millions of people worldwide affected by this devastating and debilitating bone loss, there is an urgent need for new treatments that not only stop bone loss, but also build new bone,” lead researcher Prof Gerard Karsenty of Columbia University in New York said.
“Using these findings, we are working hard to develop this type of treatment for patients,” Prof Karsenty said.
In fact, this latest breakthrough came from another discovery about serotonin, the “feelgood” chemical that is usually associated with the brain and mood.
Despite its role in brain function, 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut, where it blocks the formation of new bone.
The scientists showed that a drug developed to tackle bowel problems stopped serotonin from working in the stomach, which caused bone strength to be boosted.
They looked at what happened when they gave small amounts of the serotonin-blocking drug to female rats that had gone through the menopause.
The rodents were treated once a day for six weeks.
Given shortly after menopause, it stopped osteoporosis from developing.
Given later on, it returned the fragile bones to full strength, revealed the findings published in ‘Nature Medicine’ journal.