Osteoporosis Drug Found To Improve Arthritis Too!
Arthritis is a joint disease that results in a progressive loss of cartilage, just as osteoporosis results in progressive loss of bone. Though osteoporosis drugs are intended to regenerate bone growth, to date, arthritis drugs can only reduce inflammation and, thereby, reduce pain. But observation of patients taking a certain osteoporosis drug, by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), led to the recent finding that this drug not only restored bone but cartilage as well.
Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (OA) are both diseases of aging, so it is not surprising, especially since arthritis is very common among those who have ever injured a joint, had poor posture or gait, or carried too much weight on their joints, to find osteoporosis patients who also suffer from arthritis.
Observing OA patients who were taking the drug Forteo for osteoporosis, researchers in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, Center for Musculoskeletal Research at URMC noticed that their arthritis was improving along with their osteoporosis symptoms. Consequently, the team began to experiment using Forteo daily for one month to lab mice models of post-traumatic knee OA. They demonstrated in several studies that cell production was enhanced, degeneration of cartilage was depressed, and injured cartilage became as much as 32 percent thicker after 30 days of Forteo administration.
Researchers also used cases from government data bases to find human patients on Forteo medication for osteoporosis who also been diagnosed with knee arthritis. Though only 14 in 4000 people were found within the parameters, this group did report less pain and a higher ability to function than a matched population of patients who were not taking the drug Forteo.
Considerably more research needs to be done before Forteo is prescribed for OA. In addition to posing a risk for bone cancer, the drug has other potentially serious side effects. For this reason, Forteo is prescribed for a maximum of two years, and only when no other drug has been successful. As yet, there is no available data on how well Forteo protects cartilage after treatment has been withdrawn.