A large group of international researchers has identified 32 new genetic regions associated with fractures and osteoporosis. Variations in these regions could provide protection against, or increased risk of, diseases that weaken bones . study authors added that their findings could lead to development of new drugs for osteoporosis.
The research, which involved 17 studies that compared common genetic variants in more than 100,000 people, accurately identified six areas related to the risk of fractures of the femur (thigh bone) or lower back.
study authors noted, however, it would still be difficult to predict who is at greater risk of bone disease. Individuals with the highest number of variants associated with decreased bone mineral density were only about 1.5 times more likely to have osteoporosis than those with an average number of variants . The fracture risk was only slightly higher.
Meanwhile, in comparison with those with the lowest number of variants, those with the most variants were three to four times more likely to have had minor fractures and bone mineral density.
Each variant transmits a small amount of risk or benefit. No one can predict exactly who will suffer a fracture or not. The authors noted, however, that by identifying some unsuspected pathways involved in bone health, their research could lead to the development of new drugs against osteoporosis . But even larger studies are needed to identify all the genes critical for combating bone disease.