Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, have created a genetic atlas of osteoporosis. Scientists have mapped genes that influence the onset and development of the disease. Within the map there are genes associated with bone mineral density, among the most relevant factors for diagnosing osteoporosis.
The atlas starts from the genome of 426,824 individuals, already present in the UK Biobank databases. Starting from this material, the scientists identified 518 genetic loci, of which 301 were unknown. According to the study, these could explain about 20% of the genetic variance that predisposes to osteoporosis.
The ultimate goal of the study is to improve the understanding of the disease, so find new treatments. After the genome analysis, the researchers in fact isolated the genes that could become targets of the new drug therapies. Acting on this small group of genes, it should be easier to prevent bone breakings, frequent among those suffering from the disease. The first tests on animal models seem to be encouraging.
The study focused on genetic factors related to bone mineral density. Starting from this, one day one could use precision medicine to go much further. Physicians could work on the characteristics of the individual, increasing their bone density. Before arriving at such a point, there is still a long way to go.