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Sage advice for osteoporosis therapy


Red sage could play an important role in improving osteoporosis therapy, according to new research.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have developed a ‘compound derived from red sage’ that can selectively block an enzyme, called Cathepsin K (CatK), which destroys collagen in bones, and without any side effects.

“The development of osteoporosis drugs by pharmaceutical companies has focused heavily on blocking CatK in recent years,” said Dieter Brömme, a professor in the faculty of dentistry and a Canada Research Chair in Proteases and Disease. “All clinical trials to date have failed due to side effects ranging from stroke, skin fibrosis and cardiovascular issues. We’ve found a way to block CatK only in bone tissue that we think will prevent these other negative effects.”

In tests on mouse bone cells and a mouse model, the team discovered a 35% increased in the ‘bone mineral density of the mice’ when compared to the control group.

CatK also performs useful functions in other parts of the body and this new compound, unlike other blockers, doesn’t shut that down.

“CatK is a multifunctional enzyme with important roles in other parts of the body and we think completely blocking it is what causes unexpected side effects in other drugs,” explained Preety Panwar, a research associate in the Brömme lab. “Our compound only locks the collagen-degrading CatK activity, preventing the unregulated breakdown of collagen in bones without any other negative impacts.”

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