Skull bone holds key to tackling osteoporosis, say boffins

SCIENTISTS may have discovered a way to cure a disease that causes weak bones and fractures in the elderly. They have uncovered a fundamental difference between the the skull the bones in our limbs which could hold the key to tackling osteoporosis

By Mike Brooke

SCIENTISTS in East London may have discovered a way to cure a disease that causes weak bones and fractures in the elderly.

They have uncovered a fundamental difference between the bone which makes up the skull and the bones in our limbs and believe it could hold the key to tackling osteoporosis.

Bones in the arms and legs become weak and vulnerable to breaks when they are not maintained by weight bearing exercise.

But skull bone, which bears almost no weight, remains particularly resistant to breaking, according to boffins at the University of London's Queen Mary College in Mile End.


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Dr Simon Rawlinson, lecturer in oral biology at Queen Mary's, explained: "This research tells us why our skulls remain so tough as we age, compared to the bones in our arms and legs.

"Now we understand this phenomenon better, we understand osteoporosis better and how the disease could be treated or even prevented."

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People who develop osteoporosis have fragile bones which are prone to breaking, they found. The condition becomes more common as we age, especially in post-menopausal women when levels of oestrogen fall dramatically.

In the over 50s it affects half of all women and a fifth of all men.

The researchers reveal in their scientific paper PLoS ONE there are stark differences between the appearance of the cells in the two types of bone. Treating the cells with oestrogen had a far greater effect on the cells from the weaker limb bones.

 

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