Bear Bones, A Blueprint For Preventing Osteoporosis

Aug 14th, 2010 | By healthnews | Category: Health

Main Category: Bones / Orthopedics
Also Included In: Endocrinology;  Preventive Medicine
Article Date: 14 Aug 2010 – 1:00 PDT

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Bears hibernate all winter, yet when they awaken in the spring, their bones are as strong as ever.

Human beings don’t hibernate, but their bones do degenerate as they grow older and when they aren’t being used. Those who are bedridden for any length of time, even astronauts in the low- or no-gravity conditions of outer space, face the perils of osteoporosis.

What protection do bears have that we lack?

That’s what Seth Donahue, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Michigan Technological University, is studying, and here’s what he has found: Hibernating black bears produce parathyroid hormone that may maintain bone formation while they snooze away the winter. So serum hormones and bone remodeling markers in hibernating bears could help create a model for preventing disuse osteoporosis in people.

Source: Michigan Technological University

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