In this month’s Save Our Bones Bulletin we’ll traverse the twisting molecular labyrinths of sugar chains on the surfaces of stem cells to learn about their impact on bone cells.
Then we’ll review a study that analyzed the effect of inflammation on bones of genetically altered mice. And finally, we’ll leave the Earth to peek into experiments on the International Space Station exploring a new “bone glue” derived from ocean barnacles.
Buckle up, and get ready for a wild ride through the cutting edge of osteoporosis research.
New Chemical Shows Link Between Sugar Chains And Osteoblasts
Scientists at the University of York in the UK have found that altering the structure of sugar chains on the surface of stem cells can impact the mineralization capacity of osteoblasts.
Sugar chains cover all cells in the body, serving different functions that science doesn't yet fully understand. This experiment sought to find whether these sugar chains might play a role in regulating bone formation. Researchers used a chemical called kifunensine to alter the sugar chains and noted the results.
“Dr. Daniel Ungar from the University’s Department of Biology commented the following: ‘The complexity of these sugars means that they have never been tested in this way before, but we found that after a couple of days, interrupting the sugars' normal function enabled them to enhance bone formation processes in stem cells.’
Dr. Ungar's experiment is the first time that these sugar chains have been connected to bone growth and could pave the way for new investigations into possible future treatments for osteoporosis, where bone strength is a particular issue. Professor Paul Genever, from the University of York's Department of Biology, said: ‘Currently the most commonly used drugs for treating osteoporosis aim to prevent further bone loss to halt progression of the disease, but we have no reliable candidates for actually restoring bone strength.’
‘This is an exciting step forward into understanding the role of these sugars in its relationship to bone growth, but we still have some way to go in realizing just how this mechanism works and what would happen to the cells when treated inside the body.’”1
It should be no surprise that these scientists who are endeavoring to create a new pharmaceutical product are ignoring the only safe and time-tested “candidates for actually restoring bone strength” — regular weight-bearing exercise and a pH-balanced diet.
This stem cell-targeting chemical has only been tested in a laboratory, never on a living subject, so there’s still a long way to go before it turns up on prescription pads. The scientists don’t even yet understand, “why inhibiting the sugar chains has an impact on the way stem cells stimulate bone formation.” 1
We will be keeping an eye on this line of research as it moves toward further testing.
New Study Further Elucidates Link Between Inflammation And Bone Loss
Research at the University of Buffalo’s School of Dental Medicine has shown that an absence the protein tristetraprolin (TTP), which is produced in our body, leads to rapid and severe bone loss and that an abundance of TPP results in a reduction of bone turnover compared to mice with normal TPP levels.
TTP is known to play a significant role in the regulation of inflammation, and as people age, their bodies’ production of TTP slows. The result is increased inflammation and the bone loss that it causes.
“To better understand TTP’s role in periodontitis, an inflammatory disease, the researchers studied three groups of healthy mice: a knockout group without the gene to express TTP, a knock-in group whose genes overexpressed TTP, and a control group of unaffected mice.
The rodents were tested for inflammatory conditions, oral bone levels and the presence of osteoclasts – cells that specialize in breaking down bone – in oral tissue at three-, six- and nine-month periods.
The researchers found that bone in the knockout mice aged more rapidly than in the control group. At three months old, the mice had lost 14 percent of their oral bone. By nine months – still a young age for a mouse – bone loss had increased to 19 percent.”2
The group with no TTP also developed arthritis, eczema and other inflammatory conditions. Their osteoclast (cells that break down bone) levels were higher than the control group mice. Conversely, the group that was engineered to overproduce TTP saw increased protection against inflammation, lowering bone turnover by 13 percent, but there was no impact on osteoclast levels.2
This is the first study to test TTP’s influence on bone loss in an animal model, and it confirms what Savers already know about the relationship between inflammation, aging and bone loss. Taking action to reduce inflammation with dietary and lifestyle adjustments is essential to protecting your bones.
A New “Bone Glue” Gets A Space Trial
A medical technology company called Launchpad Medical is testing a bone glue called Tetranite on the International Space Station. They’ve developed the substance in the hopes of creating a new product to repair bone loss.
One use of this new glue would be for astronauts on long-duration space flights. In the microgravity environment of the Earth’s orbit, humans lose bone density rapidly, as much as two percent per month. NASA has contributed a significant amount of research that has bolstered our understanding of how bones form, and how they can become weak, all in an attempt to protect the health of astronauts.
The CEO of Launchpad Medical, Brian Hess, worked as an engineer of medical devices and began developing Tetranite as an alternative to bone screws for repairing a fracture.
“Hess said surgeons have been looking for a glue that was injectable, that worked in liquids, and was biocompatible — three problems that have been difficult to solve.
“So far, no one has been able to do all three of those things, but we think we have it,” Hess said.
Tetranite was reverse engineered from what sea barnacles secrete to bond themselves to underwater structures and is made from calcium and amino acids.
“The calcium and the amino acids react to form a gluey substance that hardens,” Hess said. “Over time the glue is resorbed by the body. What is unique about our material is that we believe it not only facilitates a hospitable environment for cells to grow and proliferate, but could stimulate activity of the osteoblast cells so there is a net increase in bone mass.”
Hess said the compound’s simple chemistry — small molecules from animal-derived proteins — means a body doesn’t reject it. But because it’s synthetic, it can be scaled up at low cost.”3
It isn’t clear yet what the health risks and side effects of this mysterious “bone glue” would be nor how it works, but we may soon know more, since Launchpad Medical is currently conducting animal experiments, and is planning to perform tests on humans soon.
The Save Institute predicted this far-fetched pharmaceutical concept years ago, and the potential side effects along with it. This isn’t the first “bone cement” to come along, and it won’t be the last “quick-fix” solution that is sold to the unsuspecting masses — if it makes it that far.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go to outer space to benefit from the research that NASA has done on how our bones work. The results have already confirmed that weight-bearing exercise and a bone-healthy pH-balanced diet improve bone health.
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Till next time,
1University of York. “Could sugar chains be the answer to bone growth in osteoporosis?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2018.
2Marcene Robinson. “Absence of key protein, TTP, rapidly turns young bones old” University of Buffalo. March 9, 2018. Web. http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2018/03/010.html
3Nancy Atkinson. “‘Bone Glue’ Experiments on the ISS Test Possible Treatment for Osteoporosis” January 16, 2018. Web. https://www.seeker.com/space/bone-glue-experiments-on-the-iss-test-possible-treatment-for-osteoporosis