Osteoporosis 'pill' success

11 February 2010

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Category: Research & medical benefits

bone-joint.jpgTaking a special ‘bone pill' could be the key to healing brittle bones, research on mice has shown.

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become thin and weakened. Living with the condition means that bones are more likely to fracture or break, which can be very painful. It can affect all age groups but most likely older women. This is because bone density naturally decreases from the age of 40 years and onwards and women tend to have smaller bones than men.

Previous research has shown that the chemical serotonin, produced in the stomach, can inhibit the growth of early stage bone cells. Now scientists have developed a pill which stops the action of serotonin from the stomach without blocking brain derived serotonin which is vital for bone growth.

A team of scientists studied the action of the serotonin inhibitor, at various dosages, in female mice. Results showed that mice treated with the drug inhibitor, regardless of the dosage, had an increase in bone density. In mice that had already suffered severe bone density loss, the drug reversed the effects completely, restoring the normal bone mass level for a healthy adult mouse.

Although the study is promising for future treatments in humans, there is still a lot more research needed. For example, there are differences between bone metabolism in mice and humans which need to be investigated. Serotonin is also an important gut chemical, which if inhibited in humans may have adverse effects.

Scientists believe that this study is proof of the concept that a ‘bone pill' may be viable one day for human treatments.