Special Reviews

Therapeutic Approaches to Bone Diseases

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Science  01 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5484, pp. 1508-1514
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5484.1508

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The strength and integrity of our bones depends on maintaining a delicate balance between bone resorption by osteoclasts and bone formation by osteoblasts. As we age or as a result of disease, this delicate balancing act becomes tipped in favor of osteoclasts so that bone resorption exceeds bone formation, rendering bones brittle and prone to fracture. A better understanding of the biology of osteoclasts and osteoblasts is providing opportunities for developing therapeutics to treat diseases of bone. Drugs that inhibit the formation or activity of osteoclasts are valuable for treating osteoporosis, Paget's disease, and inflammation of bone associated with rheumatoid arthritis or periodontal disease. Far less attention has been paid to promoting bone formation with, for example, growth factors or hormones, an approach that would be a valuable adjunct therapy for patients receiving inhibitors of bone resorption.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: gideon_rodan{at}merck.com

  • Visiting Research Scholar at Lilly Research Laboratories, Indianapolis, IN 46285, USA.

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