Duke, MD Anderson uncover potential strategy for bone protection in cancer therapy

A partnership between Durham, N.C.,-based Duke University School of Medicine and Houston-based University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has led to the early discovery of a potential method that may be capable of protecting bones from damage during cancer treatments.

Right now, the research pointing to the promising new method is in early stages and has only been tested on mice, but experts are looking to expand the scope of research and of how it could be useful for human cancer patients. 

Both radiation and chemo can lead to bone loss, putting patients at risk for osteoporosis and other conditions potentially for the remainder of their lives.  But in their study, researchers targeted a specific protein — the HIF-2 inhibitor, PT2399 — using a newly approved medication to shield bone-producing cells from the harms of these treatments, according to a Dec. 4 news release.

"By delivering PT2399 directly to the bone, we found that not only were we able to prevent bone injury after radiation exposure, but we were able to prevent the development of anemia," Colleen Wu, PhD, senior study author and assistant professor at Duke University School of Medicine stated in the release.

The results from the study, involving mice, were published Nov. 29 in Science Translational Medicine. Research authors note that the early success is promising, but more work is necessary to fully grasp how humans would respond to the treatment, since there are some differing bone cells between mice and humans.

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