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Compound hope to end shattered bones

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Researchers have found a compound that can increase bone mass, offering hope for people suffering skeletal weakness and increased risk of breaks and fractures due to osteoporosis.

Researchers from the University of Sydney have developed a compound, derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan, which stimulates bone formation.

Osteoporosis affects around 300 million people worldwide, and one in three women and one in five men older than 50 years will experience an osteoporotic fracture.

Lead researcher Professor Gustavo Duque said bone formation declines as part of the ageing process, making people increasingly predisposed to osteoporosis.

“In this case, we are targeting the real problem by stimulating the bone-forming cells to work and produce more bone, thus increasing bone mass and, hopefully, preventing new fractures,” Professor Duque said.

“Instead of stopping bone destruction, our compound instead stimulates bone formation.”

The compound is odourless and easily dissolved in water, and has been tested on mice, with promising results.

Professor Duque said the compound was administered in the water of normal and menopausal mice, and it strongly and safely increased bone mass in normal mice and rescued bone from menopause-associated osteoporosis.

The research team has patented the compound and will expand their trials to humans in the near future.

Kirsty Waterford