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Osteoporosis: New Science, New Therapies

Published: April 17, 2009

A decade of discovery about how osteoporosis occurs may soon lead to novel ways to treat and prevent the bone-robbing condition that affects roughly one in two women over the age of 50.

During the 1990s, scientists in Amgen’s genomic drug discovery program identified a previously unexplored protein found throughout the body’s skeleton. Further research showed that the RANK Ligand protein is a key regulator of cells called osteoclasts that break down bone.

Currently under FDA review, Amgen’s drug denosumab (dmab for short) inhibits the protein, blocking the formation of osteoclasts, and boosting bone density.

“We have a family of different kinds of drugs we can use for osteoporosis, but none of those drugs are perfect, and many of the patients who begin any one of the current therapies frequently discontinue it,” Dr. Ethel S. Siris, Director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center at Columbia University Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and a past President of the National Osteoporosis Foundation told the Post.

“I’m excited about denosumab’s potential to offer great benefit, given its robust reduction in fracture risk at all sites measured and its twice-yearly administration.”

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