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New Treatment Uses Chinese Herb to Treat People With Osteoporosis

New Treatment Uses Chinese Herb to Treat People With Osteoporosis

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  • Red sage, a traditional Chinese herb can be used in treating osteoporosis
  • It helps prevent bone loss without causing any side effects.
  • A compound (T06) derived from red sage blocks the activity of an enzyme called Cathepsin K (CatK) to prevent bone loss and increase bone mineral density

Red sage, a herb has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine holds the to a new treatment for osteoporosis can prevent bone loss without causing any side effects.

Cathepsin K (CatK) is an enzyme, which plays a vital role during osteoporosis in the breakdown of collagen in bones. A compound known as Tanshinone IIA sulfonic sodium (T06) derived from red sage is used to block CatK selectively, reveal UBS research team.


The findings were published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Blocking the Enzyme Cathepsin K (CatK)

In the past few years, while developing drugs for osteoporosis, pharmaceutical companies have focused heavily on blocking CatK, said Dieter Brömme, a professor in the faculty of dentistry and a Canada Research Chair in Proteases and Disease.

Brömme also said, "All clinical trials to date have failed due to side effects ranging from stroke, skin fibrosis, and cardiovascular issues. We've found a way to block CatK only in bone tissue that we think will prevent these other adverse effects."

The research team tested a compound (T06) that has been derived from the red sage in humans, mouse bone cells, and a mouse model.

The results showed that the compound (T06) prevented bone loss and had increased the bone mineral density in the mice, which were treated with the compound (T06) by 35 percent when compared to the control group.

Osteoporosis Drugs

The new study is built on previous research conducted by Brömme and his team, who studied the effectiveness of red sage, which is known as Danshen in Chinese is used to treat bone ailments by stopping the activity of CatK.

Most of the osteoporosis drugs in development have been called as active site-directed inhibitors.

Enzyme blockers work like keys in locks. They act like master keys and lock the entire enzyme, blocking both its disease-relevant functions like collagen degradation and its other standard functions.

Preety Panwar, a research associate from the Brömme lab stated that CatK, a multifunctional enzyme plays a significant role in many parts of the body.

The research team thinks that completely blocking CatK is what causes unexpected side effects in other drugs.

Panwar said: "Our compound (T06) only locks the collagen-degrading CatK activity, preventing the unregulated breakdown of collagen in bones without any other negative impacts."

Various other bone and cartilage diseases like arthritis and certain bone cancers could also be treated with red sage.

Osteoporosis is a global health problem. Worldwide, it affects one out of three women, and one out of five men and a multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry sincerely works in finding out ways to stop its progression.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that leads to an increased risk of fractures. In osteoporosis, the bone mass is reduced and the bones are porous, thereby resulting in weakness of the skeletal system of the body.

Usually, the loss occurs gradually over an extended period of time (years) and most of the time, a person will sustain a fracture before becoming aware that the disease is present. By the time this occurs, the disease is in its advanced stages and damage is profound.

Therefore, osteoporosis is often known as 'the silent thief' because bone loss occurs without symptoms and the progressive loss and thinning of bone tissue happens over many years.

A bone mineral density test is the best way to check the bone health. Eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, exercising and giving up smoking can help prevent osteoporosis. If needed, medicines can also be taken to treat osteoporosis.

  1. Preety Panwar, Liming Xue, Kent Søe, Kamini Srivastava, Simon Law, Jean-Marie Delaisse, and Dieter Brömme. An Ectosteric Inhibitor of Cathepsin K Inhibits Bone Resorption in Ovariectomized Mice. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. (2017). DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.3227

Source: Medindia

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