Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first osteoporosis treatment that stimulates bone formation, instead of slowing bone breakdown as other drugs do. Teriparatide decreased vertebral fractures by 90% while increasing spinal bone mass. This new drug is a portion of human parathyroid hormone (PTH), the primary regulator of calcium and phosphate metabolism in bone.

Teriparatide (Forteo) is manufactured by Eli Lilly and Co. and is a clear step forward, though it does not cure osteoporosis. The FDA estimates that 10 million Americans, mostly women, have osteoporosis, which is a progressive thinning of bones. To find better treatments, researchers are probing the complex biological processes that control skeletal health, particularly hormones that influence the cells involved in bone remodeling, and the genetics of cells that maintain bone.

"Bone regenerates constantly--10% every year, with 100% of the entire skeleton regenerating every 10 years. How does it do it?...

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