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Link between treating osteoporosis with bisphosphonates and incidence of bone necrosis examined
Date:2/16/2008

BOSTON, Feb. 16, 2008 According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects some 25 million Americans annually, 80 percent of them women. Because the disease causes a thinning of the bone, it can lead to hip fractures, spinal fractures and a whole host of debilitating and sometimes deadly complications.

Bisphosphonates (BFs), such as popularly prescribed Fosamax (alendronate sodium), are a class of drugs that act to prevent bone fractures in patients with osteoporosis as well as prevent bone metastases and related skeletal problems in patients with cancer, including multiple myeloma, metastatic breast and prostate cancers.

In 2003, the first reports emerged of a new disease, called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), found in patients who were using BFs. ONJ is characterized by bone necrosis and prolonged exposure of the jaw bone to the oral cavity. It has frequently occurred in older people who have had an oral surgical procedure or trauma to the jaw bones.

The incidence of ONJ is the subject of recent research by John T. Grbic, DDS, MMSc, of Columbia Universitys College of Dental Medicine. Since the identification of ONJ as a disease, Dr. Grbic has made a continuous effort to identify the incidence, risk factors, and pathogenesis of this new disease entity.

On Saturday, Feb. 16, at 10 a.m., in Hynes Convention Center Rm. 112, Dr. Grbic will be part of an American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) press conference that focuses on the pharmacology of BFs, with data supporting the use of BFs therapy in both oncology and non-oncology patients. He also will give an overview of the potential pathogenic mechanisms involved in the development of ONJ. He will later discuss these findings at an AAAS scientific symposia session from 1:45 p.m. 3:15 p.m. in Rm. 206.

Earlier reports of ONJ have had a significant effect on the use of BFs to treat patients with osteoporosis and cancer. Dr. Grbic and his
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Contact: Susan Craig
sc2756@columbia.edu
212-203-8599
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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