New research shows that using an antibody to block a specific bone protein can reduce radiotherapy-induced bone loss in mice.
Radiotherapy is a treatment that involves the use of high-energy radiation. Radiotherapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer. At least one in two people with cancer would benefit from radiotherapy. High-energy radiation kills or damages cancer cells and stops them from growing and multiplying. However, radiation also affects nearby normal cells. Despite advances in radiotherapy, the therapy can cause patients to lose bone density, which in turn increases the risk of broken bones.
Now, a research team led by Dr. Ling Qin at University of Pennsylvania has found a way to reduce this side effect. The findings have been reported the Journal of Bone & Mineral Research.
In fact, radiotherapy increases the amount of sclerostin in bone. Sclerostin is a protein that inhibits bone formation and enhances apoptosis of osteoblasts, cells that synthesize bone. Dr Qin previously found that activating the Wnt/β-catenin pathway helps avoid DNA damage and osteoblast cell death that are caused by radiation.
In this study, Qin's team sought to determine whether treatment with an antibody specific to sclerostin would reduce radiation-induced bone loss in mice. Results demonstrated that the antibody, called Scl-Ab, blocked trabecular bone structural deterioration after radiotherapy, by partially preserving the number and the activity of osteoblasts. Specifically, this antibody accelerated DNA repair in osteoblasts after radiotherapy and therefore protected these cells from radiation-induced apoptosis.
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