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NYU College of Dentistry’s Dr. Racquel Z. LeGeros Awarded $3.23 Million from the NIH to Continue Osteoporosis Research

Three views of a rat’s femur produced by scanning electron microscopy (top row) and micro computer tomography (bottom row) show, from left, the effects of a normal diet, a mineral-deficient diet, and a mineral-deficient diet supplemented with a calcium-phosphate-based formulation.
The objective of the five-year study is to develop novel innovative compounds that will be safe, affordable and effective for the prevention and reversal of bone loss caused by osteoporosis.

New York University College of Dentistry’s Dr. Racquel Z. LeGeros, a Professor of Biomaterials & Biomimetics and the Linkow Professor of Implant Dentistry, has received a five-year, $3.23 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue her study of innovative compounds that will be safe, affordable, and effective for the prevention and reversal of bone loss caused by osteoporosis.

“Results from the proposed studies could lead to the development of safe and affordable therapy that will target both prevention and reversal of bone loss due to osteoporosis and other bone-deficient diseases,” said Dr. LeGeros. “These results will greatly impact public health and alleviate the tremendous socioeconomic burden associated with osteoporosis.”

In her previous work, “Effect of Mg/Zn/F-CaP Supplements on Bone Properties: Phase 1,” (October, 2007), Dr. LeGeros describes the initial results of her research which showed that calcium phosphate-based formulations administered as a dietary supplement or by injection -- even at low concentrations -- significantly improved bone strength and thickness, and prevented bone loss induced by mineral deficiency without the side effects of many current drug treatments.

Current FDA-approved pharmaceutical-based osteoporosis treatments, such as bisphosphonate drugs and hormone therapies, do not effectively repair bone that has already been lost. In fact, bisphosphonates have been shown to actually inhibit bone redevelopment. Many of these treatments also have serious side effects, including increasing the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw, delayed fracture healing, heart disease, strokes, and breast cancer.

Osteoporosis, a silent debilitating bone disease, results when the rate of bone resorption (by osteoclasts) is much greater than the rate of bone formation (by osteoblasts), causing bone loss and deterioration of bone quality, leading to decreased bone strength, bone fragility, and susceptibility to bone fracture.

In the United States, the disease affects an estimated 10 million older adults, resulting in more than 1.5 million fractures annually; the overwhelming majority of those afflicted with osteoporosis (80%) are women.

Dr. LeGeros’s coinvestigators are Dr. Mani Alikhani, Assistant Professor of Orthodontics; Dr. Yu Zhang, Assistant Professor of Biomaterials & Biomimetics; Dr. Timothy Bromage, Adjunct Professor of Biomaterials & Biomimetics and of Basic Science & Craniofacial Biology; Dr. John LeGeros, Adjunct Professor of Biomaterials & Biomimetics; Dr. Dindo Mijares, Assistant Research Scientist in Biomaterials & Biomimetics; and Dr. Jennifer MacLeay, Associate Professor of Clinical Science at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

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