Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Advanced Search

Search for

Print Page Follow BioNews on Twitter BioNews RSS feed

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook

King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter

Gene clue in osteoporosis research

12 January 2004

By BioNews

Appeared in BioNews 240

US researchers have identified a key mouse gene involved in bone density, which they say could lead to new treatments for the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis. A team lead by scientists at Oregon Health and Science University found that mice lacking the Alox15 gene have stronger, more dense bones than normal mice. They also found that drugs that cancelled out the gene's effects improved the bone density of mice with osteoporosis symptoms. 'It points the way toward potent, useful human therapies', said team leader Eric Orwoll of the study, which was published in the journal Science.

Osteoporosis affects one in three women, and one in 12 men in the UK. It is a disease of old age, in which the bones gradually become more porous (less dense), and weaker. The disease often remains undetected until a patient falls and fractures their wrist, hip or spine. People with low 'bone mineral density' (BMD) are more likely to develop the disease than those with a higher BMD. While diet, lifestyle and smoking are all known to affect BMD, genetic factors are also thought to play an important role. In November 2003, Icelandic firm deCODE found that certain versions of a gene called BMP2 increased the risk of osteoporosis.

To identify other genes that affect bone density, the US researchers carried out genetic studies in laboratory mice. They identified the Alox15 gene by studying mice with a form of osteoporosis, and then bred 'knockout' mice that completely lacked this gene. Alox15 makes a protein called 12/15 lipoxygenase, which can trigger certain body cells to turn into fat-storing cells. In the case of bone marrow stem cells, increased amounts of this protein makes them grow into fat cells, rather than bone-producing cells. But drugs that block the effects of the lipoxygenase appear to reverse this process, the researchers say.

Co-author Gary Peltz, of pharmaceutical firm Roche, said: 'The study demonstrates that mouse genetic discoveries can lead to new opportunities for human therapeutics'. The team hope that their findings will help identify the human counterpart of Alox15, and shed light on osteoporosis in humans. They also say that their methods 'should be applicable to finding genes for other complex disorders'.


BBC News Online | 11 January 2004
Oregon Health and Science University | 09 January 2004
Regulation of bone mass in mice by the lipoxygenase gene Alox1
Science | 09 January 2004


06 June 2012 - by Maren Urner 
A stem cell technique to treat the common bone disease osteonecrosis is being pioneered at Southampton General Hospital in the UK... [Read More]
11 February 2005 - by BioNews 
About one in five women has a genetic variation that could increase their risk of the bone-weakening condition osteoporosis, US researchers say. A team of scientists based at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis have shown that a particular version of the CYP1A1 gene is linked to... [Read More]
13 April 2004 - by BioNews 
The law used to create Iceland's national genetic database may be unconstitutional, according to a recent ruling by the country's supreme court. In a case brought last November, the court upheld the right of a woman to withhold her deceased father's medical records from the scheme, which is run on... [Read More]
17 March 2004 - by BioNews 
A genetic test that identifies women at risk of developing osteoporosis could soon be available, the Daily Telegraph reports. Icelandic firm deCODE published a study last year, which suggested that certain variations in a gene called BMP2 could triple the risk of the bone-weakening disease. Now the Reykjavik-based company plans... [Read More]

05 November 2003 - by BioNews 
Scientists at the Icelandic firm deCODE have identified several genetic variations that could play a key role in osteoporosis. People who inherit an altered version of the BMP2 gene are more likely to develop the bone-weakening disease, the team report in the journal PLoS Biology. They stress that several other... [Read More]

Be the first to have your say.

You need to Login or Register to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions



- click here to enquire about using this story.

Printer Friendly Page

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
FREE public event in central London, 6.30pm on Thursday 8 May 2014 - find out more HERE

Please donate HERE, so that the Progress Educational Trust can continue throughout 2014 (and beyond) while keeping BioNews FREE for you to read

The Progress Educational Trust was shortlisted for the Charity Times Awards 2011

Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE, and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation