Every year on the 20th October we are encouraged to think about our bone health. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more that 8.9 million fractures each year, this correlates to an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds, with one in three women and one in five men over 50 suffering from an osteoporotic fracture. Due to its worldwide prevalence, osteoporosis is already considered a serious public health concern, which will only continue to increase in severity with the increase in ageing populations across the globe.
Bones are living tissues that are constantly undergoing remodelling to maintain bone mass. This requires the coupling of processes called bone resorption (removal of bone mineral) and bone formation. For those suffering from osteoporosis, the replacement of bone tissue is outpaced by resorption and therefore bone quality deteriorates and bones become more porous, brittle and prone to break. Bone mass gradually declines with age, therefore those most at risk are men and women over the age of 50, with post-menopausal women, who no longer benefit from the protective effects of oestrogen, being more at risk than men.
To test if you are at risk of Osteoporosis you can follow this link to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) website to take their short test:
Osteoporosis is considered a silent disease, with no symptoms until the first fracture and even then, the disease often goes undiagnosed. Luckily there are many lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, such as not smoking, getting enough vitamin D and calcium, taking enough exercise and reducing alcohol consumption. Additionally, there are many treatments available that slow down resorption of bone, however, as a chronic disease these treatment options must be taken for the rest of the person’s life, and many patients struggle to maintain their treatment regime.
This is where the development of Advanced Therapies to tackle osteoporosis could be life-changing for millions of people worldwide. Future gene therapy approaches aim to not just prevent further loss of bone, but to actually restore bone mass. The development of such regenerative therapies could relieve patients from the burden of complicated and lifelong treatment regimes. RESTORE aims to make Advanced Therapies a reality for patients across Europe and beyond. Below you can find two articles discussing the development of recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (rAAV9) vectors to deliver different artificial micro RNAs (amiR) specifically to osteoblasts and osteoclasts to prevent osteoporosis.