New research enriches our understanding of bone function and offers insights into maintaining their quality and strength. This bulletin dives into three new studies that point the way toward the future of bone health.
First, we’ll look at a report on the genetics of bone loss. Scientists have identified a protein that plays a significant role in regulating the genes that govern bone regeneration.
Next, you’ll learn about a group of Finnish scientists who are using 3D modeling to revolutionize how we assess bone health and predict fracture risk.
Lastly, we’ll review a report from the PhyloBone project. The project’s leaders are using techniques from evolutionary biology to identify and study proteins in the bone matrix that may wield the power to regulate bone regeneration.
Study Targets Genes For Another New Osteoporosis Drug
A new study published in The FASEB Journal linked the expression of a particular gene with reduced bone loss in postmenopausal women.
Researchers identified a gene that regulates the high mobility group AT-hook 1 (Hmga1) protein. This protein regulates the expression of genes that convert bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) into cells that build new bone.
”Tests on rats showed an increase in Hmga1 expression during bone creation, but a decrease when the rats underwent ovary removal, simulating the conditions of menopause. Introducing more Hmga1 to these rats led to a notable recovery from bone degradation.
Yihe Hu, PhD, from Zhejiang University in China, the lead author, remarked, “Our study demonstrated that Hmga1 prevents bone loss by promoting the osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs in osteoporosis rats, suggesting that Hmga1 could be an important therapeutic target for osteoporosis.”1
Unfortunately, when Dr. Yihe Hu mentions “therapeutic target”, he is referring to a potential new osteoporosis drug that would be developed, marketed, and sold by Big Pharma. Nonetheless, new information about the genetic pathways that lead to bone formation is welcome, as it may prove to have non-pharmaceutical applications as well.
A new study identified a genetic pathway that increases bone formation. Researchers found that a protein called Hmga1 regulates the expression of genes that instruct bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) to become bone-building cells. Increasing Hmga1 in rats with induced bone loss led to recovery from bone degradation.
3D Modeling May Produce More Accurate Bone Health Assessments
Researchers in Sweden have developed a method for creating a 3D model of a patient’s bones based on information from 2D X-ray images.
The report, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, concluded that they could identify thousands of patients at risk of fracture who would be overlooked by current assessment methods.
”Lorenzo Grassi, associate senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at Lund University, was responsible for evaluating the method. He explains that the new method uses 2D X-ray images from bone density measurements to produce 3D models of the thigh bone.
“The shift from 2D to 3D is conducted with the help of a computer-simulated template that describes how the bone's geometry and bone density varies in the population.”
The 3D model of the thigh bone enables the simulation of different situations and scenarios that may have an effect, for example in the case of a fall – information that makes it easier to assess the risk of fractures.”2
Grassi developed 3D simulations using data from 400 study participants who had previously undergone X-ray-based bone mineral density assessments. When he compared each method’s accuracy in predicting which patients would fracture their hip over the next decade, the 3D simulation provided a more accurate prediction.
This new method could offer patients a more comprehensive understanding of their bone health compared to DXA scans. However, since the modeling uses the information from the 2D x-ray, it would supplement rather than replace DXA technology.
Researchers in Sweden developed a method for creating a 3D model of a patient’s bone based on 2D DXA scans. Their 3D model proved more effective than DXA scans at predicting fracture.
Evolutionary Biology Offers New Data On Bone Regeneration
Scientists in Finland have discovered hundreds of non-collagenous proteins in the bone matrix that could play a role in bone formation and regeneration.
Their study, conducted as part of the PhyloBone project, uses the principles of evolutionary biology to identify molecular mechanisms that maintain bone health.
”Since the bone matrix, which forms most of the mass of the bone, plays both structural and regulatory roles, non-collagenous organic components have a key function in bone regulation. It is known for example that few non-collagenous proteins, such as osteopontin, play a major role in bone formation. However, the bone matrix is composed of hundreds of proteins that are poorly understood and may play a major regulatory role in bone regeneration and osteoporosis.
“Our project has identified 255 proteins in 30 species of vertebrates. The goal of the project is to serve as a valuable resource for further investigations in the areas of bone regeneration, osteoporosis, and related fields,” says Dr. Puigbò, co-principal investigator of the PhyloBone project.”3
The project will continue to conduct studies to determine the regulatory role of bone proteins. They have shared their data on these under-studied proteins with the scientific community, aiming to spur further research and new discoveries on bone matrix proteins.
Hopefully, this research will lead to new knowledge on how to support and strengthen bone regeneration through behavioral and lifestyle changes. However, it may also fuel the development of new osteoporosis drugs.
Finnish scientists have identified hundreds of proteins in the bone matrix that may play a role in bone formation and regeneration. They have made their data about these under-explored proteins available to the scientific community, which will hopefully lead to more research and new discoveries.
What This Means To You
New research offers fresh insights and information. We can apply this knowledge to our pursuit of stronger, healthier bones.
The connection between the latest scientific research and a well-informed drug-free approach to bone health is at the heart of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. The Save Institute uses scientific research published in mainstream journals to ensure that its drug-free approach is the safest and most effective method for reversing and preventing osteoporosis.
As science progresses, it increasingly underscores the importance of diet, exercise, and lifestyle as the primary tools for maintaining healthy bones and ensuring a robust, long, and independent life.