New Genes Linked to Osteoporosis

MONTREAL, May 5 (UPI) — An international team of scientists, including some from Canada, has linked 20 genes with osteoporosis, including 13 never before associated with the disease.

Researchers at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and colleagues said osteoporosis is a highly heritable trait, but the study marks the largest international effort to conclusively identify genes linked to the often-devastating bone disorder.

Dr. J. Brent Richards collaborated with more than 30 co-authors worldwide in reviewing data collected from nearly 20,000 individuals in five recent international genetic studies.

“Hip fractures are a common and costly condition which has a 50 percent mortality rate at two years, worse than some cancers,” Richards, an assistant professor at McGill University, said. “Not only did we find 13 entirely new genes, we also demonstrated that some of these genes were related not just to bone density, but also to fracture risk itself.”

He said the findings will allow scientists to better study the genetic mechanisms that control bone strength, and to intervene to prevent peoples’ bones from becoming weak.

“Also, if we are able to uncover more genes which influence bone strength, then we may be able to identify whole populations that require early preventive treatment,” he added.

The research was reported recently in the journal Nature Genetics.

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