Osteoporosis is a chronic disease that causes bone to lose density, making patients susceptible to fracture as a result of a mild injury or minor fall. Bone is in a continuous state of remodelling itself throughout life, with old and damaged bone being reabsorbed and replaced by new bone. While everyone’s bones become weaker as they age, this rebuilding process becomes unbalanced in some people, leaving bones more fragile.
More than one million Australians have osteoporosis. About half of the people with one osteoporotic fracture will have another one – and each new fracture increases risk of lower life expectancy. Aside from the pain and disability caused by fractures, around one-fifth of patients with hip fractures will die within six months.
For more information about osteoporosis, visit: Health Direct.
Osteoporosis research at Garvan
Garvan’s osteoporosis research is diverse, focusing on translating basic scientific discoveries into the clinic. Our scientists have developed a new understanding of how gene abnormalities lead to the development of osteoporosis and fragility fractures. Our studies have provided the evidence behind the Refracture Prevention Services mandated for all NSW hospitals and we have contributed to important initiatives, such as Know Your Bones – a free online tool that calculates risk of bone fracture. Our research is now directed at discovering how to repair bone and prevent osteoporosis in those who may have inherited an increased risk for the disease.