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Osteoporosis is a crippling condition provoked by an imbalance between the creation of new bone tissue and the destruction of the old, which becomes worse as we age.

What causes osteoporosis to develop and progress?

Osteoporosis is the failure of tissue maintenance in the bones, causing them to become weak and fragile. This increases the risk of falls and drives age-related frailty. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that low bone mass due to osteoporosis is a threat to public health for nearly 44 million men and women aged 50 and older in the United States.

During the progression of osteoporosis, the balance between the destruction of old bone tissue and the creation of new bone tissue gets disrupted. The bone structure is maintained by osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone tissue, and osteoblasts, which create new bone tissue. Bone tissue is in a state of balance between removal and renewal, but as we age, this balance shifts in favor of osteoclasts and the removal of bone tissue.

So, why does this happen? Senescent cells are known for causing inflammation via a cocktail of proinflammatory signals known as SASP, so they are thought to be one of the causes of osteoporosis.

A new stem cell review

We have talked about how recent progress has been made in treating this disease by removing senescent cells in mice. In this new review, the authors take a look at delivering stem cells to the bone tissue to try to address the imbalance[1].

The idea of increasing the numbers of bone-building stem cells and replacing those lost with age is a plausible approach.

However, this approach is far from complete, as it only addresses one aspect of osteoporosis that causes bones to weaken. Replacing lost stem cells alone is unlikely to solve the problem, as the underlying causes, such as senescent cell accumulation and resulting inflammation, are not being addressed.

Conclusion

As the authors here mention, there are many current stem cell trials, in which researchers are investigating other diseases, that may influence the progression of osteoporosis. This gives us the chance to learn a great deal about stem cell therapies for osteoporosis with some additional effort.

It is plausible that the combination of senescent cell removal therapies and stem cell therapy could be a potent force in treating osteoporosis. Indeed, we have recently seen that reducing chronic age-related inflammation helps to improve stem cell transplants in a recent study.

In order for us to fully address age-related diseases, we will need to use a repair-based approach under the SENS or Hallmarks of Aging model, in which multiple therapeutic approaches are combined.

Literature

[1] Kiernan, J., Davies, J. E., & Stanford, W. L. (2017). Concise Review: Musculoskeletal Stem Cells to Treat Age‐Related Osteoporosis. Stem cells translational medicine.

About the author

Steve Hill

Steve serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 500 articles on the topic as well as attending various medical industry conferences. In 2019 he was listed in the top 100 journalists covering biomedicine and longevity research in the industry report – Top-100 Journalists covering advanced biomedicine and longevity created by the Aging Analytics Agency. His work has been featured in H+ magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, and, Keep me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project. In 2015 he led the Major Mouse Testing Program (MMTP) for the International Longevity Alliance and in 2016 helped the team of the SENS Research Foundation to reach their goal for the OncoSENS campaign for cancer research.
  1. September 4, 2017

    Would Thymic regeneration have any effects on Osteoporosis?

  2. May 31, 2018

    How can I become part of this study. I am a 51 year old white email with severe osteoporosis in the spine and hips with high risk of fracture and I would like to receive stem cell treatment. Understanding that stem cell treatment alone isn’t enough I would really prefer to be a part of your trial if that is at all possible.

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