Medical review lists newest osteoporosis treatments

A pair of researchers from Brazil and the U.S. recently released an article detailing the latest treatments and drug administration methods for osteoporosis.

The team, whose work appears in the journal Annual Review of Medicine, specifically focuses on zoledronic acid, selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), denosumab, cathepsin K inhibitors, teriparatide and sclerostin inhibitors.

Zoledronic acid and denosumab are anti-resorptive agents, meaning that they inhibit the ability of osteoclasts to absorb bone minerals. Osteoclasts, which are specialized cells that break down the bone tissue built up by osteoblasts, are commonly cited as a primary mechanism of osteoporotic advancement.

By contrast, SERMs target the estrogen receptors found in bone cells. The study's authors noted that there is currently only one SERM, raloxifene, that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the U.S. However, the researchers stated that SERMs have shown much promise in clinical trials, in terms of mitigating bone loss among postmenopausal women.

Cathepsin K inhibitors have a different mechanism of action than either of the above sets of prescription drugs. The researchers said that cathepsin K is an enzyme that breaks down proteins specific to bone cells.

By preventing this subcellular action, cathepsin K inhibitors like balicatib and odanacatib - two such drugs currently undergoing clinical trials - appear to slow the advance of osteoporosis.

Teriparatide is a unique treatment that is part of a class of drugs called osteoanabolics and contains molecules that mimic parathyroid hormone, which stimulates bone growth when injected into the body, rather than slowing bone decay.

Finally, sclerostin inhibitors block the production of a glycoprotein, which itself inhibits bone growth. As a result, preventing the production of sclerostin can improve the body's chances of repairing degraded bone tissue, the researchers said.

They added that these and other novel treatments may contribute to more efficient strategies in the battle against osteoporosis, a condition that affects 10 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
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