Drug inhibiting serotonin in gut could reverse osteoporosis

February 8th, 2010 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Feb 8 (IANS) An investigational drug that inhibits production of serotonin, primarily known as a neurotransmitter, in the gut cured osteoporosis in mice and rats, according to a new report.
Serotonin was primarily known as a neurotransmitter acting in the brain. Yet, 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut, and the remaining five percent is in the brain, where it regulates mood, among others.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes dull pain ache in the bones or muscles, particularly low back pain or neck pain, in later stages. Current drugs for osteoporosis can only prevent the breakdown of old bone.

The findings by Columbia University Medical Centre (CUMC) researchers shows that serotonin in the gut stalls bone formation, potentially opening newer ways of building up new bones.

By turning off the intestine’s release of serotonin, the research team, led by Gerard Karsenty, professor of genetics at CUMC, was able to cure osteoporosis in mice that had undergone menopause.

Karsenty and his team postulated that an inhibitor of serotonin synthesis should be an effective treatment for osteoporosis.

Shortly thereafter, they read about an investigational drug, known as LP533401, which is able to inhibit serotonin in the gut.

Karsenty and team developed a research protocol to test their theory, where they administered the compound orally, once daily, at a small dose, for up to six weeks to rodents experiencing post-menopausal osteoporosis.

Results demonstrated that osteoporosis was prevented from developing, or when already present, could be fully cured.

“New therapies that inhibit the production of serotonin in the gut have the potential to become a novel class of drugs to be added to the therapeutic arsenal against osteoporosis,” said Karsenty.

“With tens of millions of people worldwide affected by this devastating and debilitating bone loss, there is an urgent need for new treatments that not only stop bone loss, but also build new bone,” added Karsenty.

“Using these findings, we are working hard to develop this type of treatment for human patients,” said Karsenty, according to a CUMC release.

These findings were published in the Sunday issue of Nature Medicine.

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