European Commission carries out research towards preventing the occurrence of osteoporosis

September 25, 2002

Brussels, 24 Sep 2002

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[...] The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements) is working with the project partners* to evaluate a novel isotopic tracer method for assessing the impact of diet on bone loss. IRMM has certified a series of 41Ca enriched isotopic reference materials (RMs) to be used, and this new method will be compared to already established methods (bone mineral density, biochemical markers) to evaluate its effectiveness.

To date, 24 post-menopausal women in the Zurich area have received an oral dose of 41Ca. (A woman is considered postmenopausal when she has not had a menstrual period for more than 12 consecutive months). [...]

In osteoporosis research, 41Ca, a long-lived radionuclide with a half-life of 105,000 years - virtually non-existent in nature - is a very promising novel approach. Because 41Ca can be detected at highest sensitivity and only minute amounts are required to label bone calcium isotopically, any potential health risks are negligible.

After being administered orally, 41Ca that is not incorporated into bone is excreted in urine within one year. Later, 41Ca in urine is released directly from bone. First human experiments suggest that a change in bone Ca turnover can be identified in less than 2 months via changes in urinary 41Ca excretion. This makes it the most powerful technique to monitor changes in bone metabolism to date. [...]

Contact: doris.florian@irmm.jrc.be

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Joint Research Centre
http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int/index.asp

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