New gene offers hope for preventive medicine against fractures

September 18, 2012

A big international study has identified a special gene that regulates bone density and bone strength. The gene can be used as a risk marker for fractures and opens up opportunities for preventive medicine against fractures. The study, led by the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, was published in the journal PLoS Genetics.

The international study, which involved more than 50 researchers from Europe, North America and Australia and was led by Associate Professor Mattias Lorentzon and Professor Claes Ohlsson at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, is based on extensive of the genetic material of 10,000 patients and experimental studies in mice.

Through the combined studies, researchers have succeeded in identifying a special gene, Wnt16, with a strong link to and so-called cortical bone thickness, which is decisive to bone strength.

The studied by the international research network could predict, for example, the risk of a forearm fracture in a large patient group of older women.

"In the experimental study, we could then establish that the gene had a crucial effect on the thickness and density of the femur. In mice without the Wnt16 gene, the strength of the femur was up to 61 per cent lower," according to Mattias Lorentzon at the Institute of Medicine, the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

The discovery opens up opportunities to develop to prevent the most common fractures.

"Low cortical bone mass is a decisive factor in, for example, hip and forearm fractures. Unfortunately, the treatments currently used for brittleness of the bones have very little effect on the cortical bone mass," says Mattias Lorentzon.

"If we can learn to stimulate the signaling routes of the Wnt16 gene, we could strengthen the skeleton in these parts too, thereby preventing the most common and serious fractures. The discovery of Wnt16 and its regulation of mass is therefore very important," according to Mattias Lorentzon.

Explore further: Exercise in early 20s may lower risk of osteoporosis

More information: The article "WNT16 influences Bone Mineral Density, Cortical Bone Thickness, Bone Strength and Osteoporotic Fracture Risk" was published in PLoS Genetics on 5 July.

Related Stories

Exercise in early 20s may lower risk of osteoporosis

February 13, 2012
Physical exercise in the early twenties improves bone development and may reduce the risk of fractures later in life, reveals a study of more than 800 Swedish men carried out at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of ...

Dental X-rays can predict fractures

December 6, 2011
It is now possible to use dental X-rays to predict who is at risk of fractures, reveals a new study from researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy reported in the journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology.

Men who do load-bearing exercise in early 20s may be shielded from osteoporosis

May 4, 2012
Young men who play volleyball, basketball or other load-bearing sports for four hours a week or more increase bone mass and might gain protection from developing osteoporosis later in life, according to a new study in the ...

Estrogen treatment with no side-effects in sight

April 11, 2011
Oestrogen treatment for osteoporosis has often been associated with serious side-effects. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have now, in mice, found a way of utilising the positive ...

Recommended for you

Maternal diet may program child for disease risk, but better nutrition later can change that

October 20, 2017
Research has shown that a mother's diet during pregnancy, particularly one that is high-fat, may program her baby for future risk of certain diseases such as diabetes. A new study from nutrition researchers at the University ...

New gene editing approach for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency shows promise

October 20, 2017
A new study by scientists at UMass Medical School shows that using a technique called "nuclease-free" gene editing to correct cells with the mutation that causes a rare liver disease leads to repopulation of the diseased ...

Researchers find evidence of DNA damage in veterans with Gulf War illness

October 19, 2017
Researchers say they have found the "first direct biological evidence" of damage in veterans with Gulf War illness to DNA within cellular structures that produce energy in the body.

Researchers drill down into gene behind frontotemporal lobar degeneration

October 19, 2017
Seven years ago, Penn Medicine researchers showed that mutations in the TMEM106B gene significantly increased a person's risk of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), the second most common cause of dementia in those ...

Genetic variants associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder identified

October 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found evidence of four genes that can be linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group ...

New clues to treat Alagille syndrome from zebrafish

October 18, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies potential new therapeutic avenues for patients with Alagille syndrome. The discovery, published in Nature Communications, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.