A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) explored a novel treatment for osteoporosis using romosozumab and found that it is more efficient and improves the bone density compared to conventional treatment.

The corresponding author Mattias Lorentzon, Professor of Geriatrics at the Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, and Senior Physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, said the new treatment with romosozumab could provide more effective protection against fractures and help many patients with severe osteoporosis.

Even though most of the patients with osteoporosis and high risk of fractures are under conventional treatment with alendronate, they continue to have fractures and could not regain their original bone strength.

The current standard treatment includes alendronate that increases bone density by slowing the breakdown of bone and thereby decreases the risk of fractures by 20-50 percent. Many people with osteoporosis, especially elderly women, however, continue to suffer broken bones. The fractures lead to disability and suffering, and with hip and vertebral fractures, often leading to premature death.

In the present study, the researchers used a new drug romosozumab, an antibody that blocks the substance sclerostin — slows the new bone formation. Treatment with romosozumab could lead to rapid new bone formation. A total of 4,093 women (average age 74 years) with osteoporosis and previous fractures, were randomly assigned to 12 months' treatment with either alendronate or romosozumab. After the first 12 months, all patients received alendronate for next 12 months.

When compared to the alendronate group, those who received romosozumab were 48% less likely to develop the risk of vertebral fracture. The proportions suffering fractures in the two different groups were 11.95% and 6.2%, respectively.

In the romosozumab group, the researchers could find a 27% lower risk of clinical fractures, such as an arm or leg fracture. The proportions of patients suffering fractures in the romosozumab group were 9.7%, and that in the alendronate group was 13%.

They could find a similar proportion of side effects and severe side effects in both groups. But the serious cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke, occurred in 2.5% of the patients that received romosozumab compared with 1.9% in the group that received alendronate during the first 12 months of the study.

Further studies are required to assess the safety aspects of the new drug. Still, the treatment with the romosozumab could prevent high-risk patients from many fractures, Mattias Lorentzon concluded.