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UBC researchers explore new red sage-based osteoporosis treatment

Microscope images of bone showing bone cells and osteoporosis cavities without treatment using CatK inhibitor (L) and with treatment using CatK inhibitor (R). (Photo courtesy UBC)
Summary

Scientists have taken a compound from red sage and used it to block an enzyme called Cathepsin K

Targeting Cat K has proved a challenge for the drug industry so far

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Researchers at the University of British Columbia are working on a new osteoporosis treatment they hope will be easier on patients, based on a herb widely used in traditional Chinese medicine.

These scientists have taken a compound from red sage and used it to block an enzyme called Cathepsin K or Cat K — which causes collagen in bones to break down in osteoporosis patients.

“In this herb, there are thousands and thousands of compounds,” says Dr Preety Panwar with UBC, who conducted many of the experiments for this study. “We figured out from lots of these compounds that this compound was the best one, and we’ve tested it in the animal model.”

Professor Dieter Brömme with UBC says targeting Cat K has proved a challenge for the drug industry, so far.

“This particular enzyme….has been used as a drug target for the last 10 years, but all efforts failed by the pharmaceutical industry.”

There’s still a long way to go, however — the hope next is to get funding for clinical trials.