New osteoporosis genes identified in large study

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fracture, genetics, osteoporosis, arthritis information, arthritis magazineScientists are honing in on a potential treatment for osteoporosis, after performing the largest ever genetic study of osteoporosis, they report in Nature Genetics.

Using data from over 140,000 people, the team has found 153 new gene variants associated with the loss of bone mineral density, which often result in fractures; gene GPC6, which had not previously been linked to osteoporosis, is of particular interest to the scientists.

“What makes this gene particularly interesting is that it encodes a protein that is present on the surface of cells, making it a potential candidate for a drug target,” Prof David Evans said. “Our studies show that removing it in animal models resulted in an increase in bone thickness.”

Associate Prof J. Brent Richards comments that there is a strong inherited component with bone health, but osteoporosis often goes undetected until a fracture occurs.

“In 8,540 participants who reported previous fractures from simple falls, associations were made with 12 of the new gene regions,” he says.

The results could be used to develop new treatments along with screening programmes to identify people who would benefit most from preventive measures.

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