From help with calcium absorption to osteoporosis treatment delivery, here's a round-up of technologies, treatments and other tidbits of interest to the osteoporosis community.
Osteoporosis Detection -- Through Your Dental X-Ray?
New technology is being developed in England that might be able to detect osteoporosis in a patient by using routine dental x-rays. Osteodent, as it is known, might be able to help those with low bone mass learn of their conditions earlier, especially for individuals who would otherwise not undergo any form of osteoporosis testing. It will be interesting to see if this helps more people become aware of their potential for this serious condition.
A New Forteo (Parathyroid Hormone) Delivery Device
A Massachusetts-based startup headed by a former MIT grad student is attempting to develop technology that would deliver osteoporosis treatment via an implanted device. MicroChips has developed prototypes for a method to deliver parathyroid hormone at daily intervals through either a chip that is either programmed or controlled via radio signals. (Currently people taking such medication, known by the brand name Forteo, must inject themselves daily.) If it pans out, the device could be an enouraging alternative.
"Calcium" Carrots - Help for Calcium Absorption
Fascinating research is underway to help those of us concerned about osteoporosis get more calcium in our diets. Scientists at Texas A&M and Baylor College of Medicine are at work developing a new, genetically modified carrot that could increase calcium absorption. The carrot is fortified with "sCAX1" to help the body make higher amounts of a calcium transporting protein. So far research indicates that the 15 men and 15 women who ate the special carrot showed increased calcium absorption in their urine tests.
The Cost of Failing to Diagnose Menopause
I came across this bizarre story from Japan (Yomiuri Online -- English version not accessible) indicating that doctors failing to diagnose menopause are wasting 43.4 billion yen (about $395 million in US currency) annually. That seems strange, seeing how menopause is not some rare disease but a natural process that will be undergone by every woman who lives long enough -- and doctors should be prepared to diagnose it. Of even further concern, the article claims that prior to diagnosis, a number of women who complained of symptoms such as headaches and back pain took tests such as bone-mineral density tests. To me it seems troubling that such tests would be considered a "waste" just because it turns out a woman is going through menopause -- after all, back pain is the main (usually the only!) symptom of a vetrebral fracture. Many women younger than 65 lose significant bone mass during menopause and such tests may be appropriate to diagnose the risk of fracture. Hopefully the medical system in Japan won't overcompensate and withhold needed bone scans in an effort to correct the actual problems of waste.