SAN DIEGO -- The first fully controlled two-year study of a new treatment for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women restored bone mass to its original level in nearly two thirds of the women participating in the trial, UC San Francisco scientists reported today.
The new drug treatment -- a synthetic version of part of a natural human protein called parathyroid hormone (hPTH 1-34) -- was three times more effective at reversing bone loss than the best drugs currently available, the UC San Francisco scientists reported.
The results suggest a way to cure the debilitating disease for the first time, said Claude Arnaud, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and physiology at UCSF and director of the osteoporosis study funded by the National Institute of Aging. Arnaud is senior author of the report presented today at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego. First author Bruce Roe, assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCSF, presented the paper.
About 25 million older women in the U.S. suffer bone loss due to the osteoporosis, which results in 1.5 million fractures a year. About half of those fractures (700,000) occur in the spine and more than 280,000 are hip fractures, which hasten patients' move to wheelchairs, nursing homes and irreversible debility, Arnaud said.
The annual cost of osteoporosis in the U.S. is about $14 billion, a figure expected to increase to some $240 billion over the next 50 years as the population ages, Arnaud said.
"This is comparable to our current defense budget, and is an amount that our country probably cannot afford," he said. "If bone loss can be restored, we can avoid much suffering and spare society this enormous cost."
The results of the study suggesting a potential cure for osteoporosis must
overcome a concern from a related finding, however. A recent parathyroid hormone
study by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, using laboratory rats, found that
a small percentage of the rats developed
Contact: Wallace Ravven
University of California - San Francisco