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Strontium compound prevents some fractures.



An experimental drug containing strontium strontium (strŏn`shēəm) [from Strontian, a Scottish town], a metallic chemical element; symbol Sr; at. no. 38; at. wt. 87.62; m.p. 769°C;; b.p. 1,384°C;; sp. gr. 2.6 at 20°C;; valence +2.  makes bones denser and decreases the risk of fractures, a study of elderly women finds. The results add the drug, called strontium ranelate, to a wave of new treatments for osteoporosis.

Strontium, a soft metal with chemical similarities to calcium, is widely dispersed in nature. In the 1950s, strontium emerged as a potential osteoporosis drug because it shows a natural attraction to bone. But researchers soon shelved that approach. Strontium was later used as a treatment for bone cancer pain.

Recently, researchers combined strontium with ranelic acid to produce the experimental drug. It aided bone growth and boosted bone density in animal studies and lessened fractures in preliminary tests in people.

In the new study, between 1996 and 1998, researchers identified 1,442 postmenopausal post·men·o·paus·al
adj.
Of or occurring in the time following menopause.


postmenopausal Change of life Gynecology adjective Referring to the time in ♀ when menstrual periods stop for ≥ 1 yr
 women, average age 69, who had osteoporosis. The women all began taking vitamin D vitamin D

Any of a group of fat-soluble alcohols important in calcium metabolism in animals to form strong bones and teeth and prevent rickets and osteoporosis. It is formed by ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) of sterols (see steroid) present in the skin.
 and calcium supplements. Half also received 2 grams of strontium ranelate powder daily. The others got an inert powder as a placebo.

During the 3-year test period, 21 percent of the women taking strontium ranelate suffered a vertebral ver·te·bral
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or of the nature of a vertebra.

2. Having or consisting of vertebrae.

3. Having a spinal column.
 fracture, compared with 33 percent of those getting the placebo, physician Pierre J. Meunier of the Edouard Herriot Hospital in Lyon, France, and his colleagues report in the Jan. 29 New England Journal of Medicine The New England Journal of Medicine (New Engl J Med or NEJM) is an English-language peer-reviewed medical journal published by the Massachusetts Medical Society. It is one of the most popular and widely-read peer-reviewed general medical journals in the world. .

The two groups of women had begun the study with similar bone density. After 3 years of participation, those getting the placebo had a 1.3 percent density decline in the lower vertebrae Vertebrae
Bones in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions of the body that make up the vertebral column. Vertebrae have a central foramen (hole), and their superposition makes up the vertebral canal that encloses the spinal cord.
. In contrast, women receiving strontium ranelate showed a density increase of 6.8 percent in that area. The drug's only side effect was temporary diarrhea in a small percentage of volunteers.

"This is really beautiful work. It's very thorough," says Agnes Vignery, a molecular biologist at Yale University. "This drug should be used," she says.

The new study establishes the efficacy of strontium ranelate for osteoporosis, agrees Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan, a physician at the American University of Beirut American University of Beirut, at Beirut, Lebanon; English language; chartered by New York State in 1866 as Syrian Protestant College, rechartered 1920 as the American Univ. of Beirut.  Medical Center in Lebanon, in an editorial in the same issue.

However, the antifracture effect of strontium ranelate doesn't appear to be as dramatic as that of some other drugs, says Felicia Cosman, clinical director for the National Osteoporosis Foundation The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) is an American voluntary health organization dedicated to osteoporosis and bone health. Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C..  in Washington, D.C., and a physician at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, N.Y. "I'm happy the drug works for vertebral fractures," she says, "but I'm not enthusiastic about the fact that it doesn't appear to be better than standard antiresorptive drugs." Antiresorptive drugs work by suppressing bone erosion.

To stay healthy, bone needs to be constantly dissolved and replaced with new bone, Vignery explains. By aiding this remodeling remodeling /re·mod·el·ing/ (re-mod´el-ing) reorganization or renovation of an old structure.

bone remodeling
 process, rather than simply inhibiting bone loss, strontium ranelate and an injected form of parathyroid hormone have an edge over antiresorptive drugs, she says. Estrogen also spurs remodeling, but it may create other health problems (SN: 5/31/03, p. 341).
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Title Annotation:Good to the bone
Author:Seppa, N.
Publication:Science News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 31, 2004
Words:479
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