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The future of osteoporosis care: are personalized treatments next?

Latest osteoporosis research could lead to better treatment, outcomes

Douglas P. Kiel, M.D., M.P.H.'s picture
Osteoporosis care

There are plenty of genetic traits that we can thank our parents for—could weak bones be one of them?

My fellow researchers at the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife (IFAR) believe they’ve discovered links between 56 different genetics variants and subsequent bone loss.

After examining a wide scope of osteoporosis studies as part of the largest analysis of genome-studies ever conducted, our researchers were able to pinpoint 56 different genetic variants that negatively affect bone mineral density (BMD).

Low BMD indicates bone thinning or osteoporosis, which greatly increases the risk of bone fracture. Each year, there are 1.5 million new fractures that can be attributed to osteoporosis. Hip fractures, particularly, are especially dangerous to a population of older adults, upping the risk of mortality significantly in the year following a fracture.

Of those 56 genetic variants, our team at IFAR were able to pinpoint fourteen that directly increased the risk of bone fracture. This is the first time a link between a large number of variants and the risk for fracture has ever been made.

So what does this mean?

We’re hoping that this new information will help guide the course of further research and treatment for us and other scientists. The ultimate goal is to be able to better identify seniors that are at risk and provide osteoporosis patients with more personal, gene-based treatments that will yield better results, reduce the risk of fracture and improve quality of life.

Learn more about What is Osteoporosis

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Director of Medical Research, Senior Scientist

My primary research interests are in the area of osteoporosis and related fractures, including falls, nutritional factors, genetics, and frailty. Much of my work has been carried out in association with the Framingham Study, which includes an ancillary study called the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. In addition, I am interested in clinical trials of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions to preserve bone mass and prevent fractures.

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