Growing Bone, Preventing Fractures
MADISON - You may not think of your bones as a road in need of repair. But a new experimental medication that may promote new bone growth in those with low bone density, has been described as a super-effective highway repair crew by Dr. Neil Binkley, a UW Health osteoporosis specialist.
Each day, our bones break down a little and remodel themselves. As a person ages, however, the level of breakdown increases, like cracks in a frequently used highway.
"When a highway needs repair, the guys with the jackhammers come, and they call the cement crew to come with a truck full of concrete to fill in the hole," says Dr. Binkley. "Now, in post-menopausal women, the jackhammers work too hard and the buddies show up with a truck that's not big enough, so the hole's not completely filled. This results in bone loss, weakened bone and ultimately fractures."
Dr. Binkley is among the researchers who hope that DP001, a new class of drug derived directly from Vitamin D, will be the bigger concrete truck that rebuilds lost bone. The drug, also known as 2MD, is the first major development of Deltanoid, the Madison-based company formed by Dr. Hector Deluca, a UW-Madison professor of biochemistry. Dr. Binkley is currently recruiting postmenopausal women for a Phase 2 clinical trial to test DP001's effectiveness.
"We're very enthusiastic about the possibilities here," says Deluca, who first discovered DP001's bone-building properties in 1998. "While we're hoping eventually to be able to use this for everyone's benefit, post-menopausal women are seriously affected by this issue. They're the ones who tend to suffer extremely rapid bone loss."
Currently, treatment options for low bone density center on commonly prescribed drugs like Actonel™, Boniva™, and Fosamax™ that focus on preventing further breakdown of bone in patients with low bone density.
"What we need are drugs that build bone back up rather than simply prevent degradation," says Binkley.
DP001 could be just that. Because it's directly derived from Vitamin D, DP001 addresses both of the problems that lead to falls and bone fractures in postmenopausal women-poor bone density and muscle weakness. Because DP001 secretes an enzyme that makes it self-regulating, Binkley and Deluca aren't concerned about toxicity or growing more bone than a patient requires.
DP001 is being studied at a number of centers in the United States, including the University of Wisconsin. If the trial proves successful, Deluca says DP001 could be available commercially in five to six years.
Women eligible to participate in the study must be post-menopausal with borderline bone density and/or osteopenia. To enroll or learn more, contact the UW Health Osteoporosis Clinical Research Center at (608) 265-6410.
Date Published: 01/09/2008