Results from a study published last week in the journal Nature Communications report the discovery of a possible new therapeutic option for patients with osteoporosis. The research identifies a new compound that appears to promote the development of new bone-forming cells in patients suffering from bone loss. The research team from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute focused on a protein called PPARy (known as the master regulator of fat) and its impact on the fate of stem cells derived from bone marrow (“mesenchymal stem cells”). Since these mesenchymal stem cells can develop into several different cell types—including fat, connective tissues, bone and cartilage—they have a number of potentially important therapeutic applications.
It was known that a partial loss of PPARy in a genetically modified mouse model led to increased bone formation. To see if they could mimic that effect using a drug candidate, the researchers combined a variety of structural biology approaches to rationally design a new compound that could repress the biological activity of PPARy. The results showed that when human mesenchymal stem cells were treated with the new compound, which they called SR2595 (SR=Scripps Research), there was a statistically significant increase in osteoblast formation, a cell type known to form bone. Read a news story about the research here. The journal abstract may be read here.