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Promising new treatment preserves bone mass in mice; May help women and men with osteoporosis

A completely new type of therapy, using a unique class of synthetic compounds, may someday protect both men and women from the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis. Researchers reported in the October 25 issue of Science that early studies of one of these compounds called estren successfully preserved and even restored bone mass in an animal model without the side effects associated with sex hormone therapies.

The group found that estren protected bone mass in both female and male mice as well as estrogen or testosterone did, but without the changes in reproductive organs associated with sex hormone therapy. They call this new class of compounds, ANGELS (Activators of Non-Genomic Estrogen-Like Signalling).

"The sex hormones estrogen and testosterone play a role in building bone throughout life as well as protecting the reproductive health of both sexes. To safeguard the bone mass often lost as women age, doctors may give estrogen. This is quite effective at preserving bone, but can have serious side effects," explained Jill Carrington, Ph.D., from the Biology of Aging Program at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). "This study suggests a new direction in research toward treating the disabling disease osteoporosis in both men and women." The NIA and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) supported the study by Stavros Manolagas, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the Central Arkansas Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS), Little Rock, AR.

This new therapy evolved out of our knowledge of the role that sex hormones play in bone remodeling. Based on earlier work by Dr. Manolagas, he and his associates hypothesized that thebone building actions of sex hormones could be separated from their effects on the reproductive system; a different process seemed to be involved. If so, they proposed that it should be possible to trigger the bone building activit
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Contact: Karin Kolsky
kolskyk@nia.nih.gov
301-496-1752
NIH/National Institute on Aging
24-Oct-2002


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