The basis of this invention lies in the properties of the periosteum, a membrane that covers the bones and plays an essential role in their growth and repair. It secretes a key protein that controls the diameter of the bone and therefore its strength: periostin. During the bone resorption process, the enzyme cathepsin K degrades it. The digested periostin fragment, called k-POSTN, is also found in the blood and thus reflects bone fragility. The interest of this fragment lies in its bone specificity, unlike intact periostin, which has been known to scientists for a long time, but which can also increase in cardiovascular diseases and cancers. After a blood sample has been taken, the amount of k-POSTN is measured in the laboratory using an ELISA test, a widely used method for measuring molecules in a biological sample.
The new device has the potential to help health care professionals identify and monitor those most at risk of developing osteoporotic fractures as well as those with other bone-weakening diseases, including type 2 diabetes. In addition, it allows therapeutic intervention at an early stage, before a fracture occurs, a fact that should undeniably reduce the burden of bone diseases on health systems and significantly improve patients’ quality of life.
This device is intended to complement bone densitometry, which is the imaging technique currently used to assess bone fragility. “This is a process that can unfortunately be biased in the case of type 2 diabetes. The increase in weight and fat mass typical of diabetes blurs the measurement of bone mineral density, which may appear normal even though fragile bone tissue is present. The new device overcomes these limitations,” says Serge Ferrari, head of HUG’s Bone Diseases Service, full professor at the Department of Medicine at the UNIGE Faculty of Medicine and co-inventor.
The measurement of k-POSTN improves the prediction of bone fragility by increasing the accuracy and specificity of the techniques currently used to identify people at risk of bone fracture. “Our diagnostic will enable researchers and pharmaceutical companies involved in the development of new treatments for osteoporosis to obtain precise, specific and quantitative measurements of the effect of their pilot products,” says Serge Ferrari.
Source: Healthcare in Europe