Microarchitecture of healthy bone (left) and in osteoporosis (right) via Wikimedia Commons
The brittle bones caused by osteoporosis can become a big problem with age, and the condition must be tackled in order to improve quality of life and health in an older society. Many people believe that bones are static once grown, but in reality they’re dynamic – being re-absorbed and added to all the time. When re-absorption overtakes formation, then bone density begins to decrease and the individual will begin to suffer easy breakages and weakness.
Recent development suggests that stem cell therapy may be one way of balancing this absorption/creation act, returning bones to their youthful density. PGDFB (platelet derived growth factor, subunit B) is already an FDA approved treatment for bone in the jaw and mouth, and is a promising factor for inducing bone growth. By genetically altering hematopoetic stem cells (which can naturally gravitate towards bone loss) to produce more of this growth factor, researchers
were able to encourage bone growth in mice. A weaker promoter (a sequence telling the cells how much to produce the gene product) was needed to optimise the dosage, as higher levels of PGDFB had a negative effect on density, but when the amount was optimal density was maintained alongside growth.
A great deal of research is still required, but as the process of bone growth and the particular factors involved are further revealed, treatments like cell therapy could provide one route to reversing bone loss.
Read more at Medical Express