Medical Moment: Using ‘nanobubbles’ to destroy osteoporosis

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 5:33 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - Almost 10 million American have osteoporosis.

Another 44 million are at risk of getting it. It’s a disease that causes weak and fragile bones.

Even though there are medications to slow its progression, there’s nothing that can stop it, that is, until now. New technology may be the key to preventing, treating, and destroying the disease.

“I was walking from the living room to my bedroom and I fell,” recalled Patricia Bersche.

At 81, falling and breaking a bone terrifies Patricia Bersche.

“I fell so many times that it was frightening for me,” Bersche continued.

One in two women and one in four men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Mehdi Razavi is using “nanobubbles” to destroy the genes that cause osteoporosis.

“There are side effects, including jaw osteonecrosis and gastrointestinal issues,” said Razavi, a bioengineer at the University of Central Florida.

A healthy body will continuously replace old or damaged bone tissue. But in osteoporosis, bone damage increases faster than new bone can be formed. Many drugs used today can slow down the process, but the side effects can be debilitating.

“We develop nanobubbles that you can inject inside your body,” Razavi said. “They are very small.”

So small that they are invisible to the human eye.

The nanobubbles Razavi is creating go into bone cells, then search and find the genes that cause osteoporosis and deliver treatment. An ultrasound is then used to supercharge the treatment, causing the infected gene to disappear.

“When you apply ultrasound into the bubbles, they start to expand then rupture to deliver genes into the cell. ultrasound alone can also increase bone formation,” Razavi said.

Razavi says these nanobubbles will not only stop osteoporosis from getting worse, but they can also reverse the damage done and prevent it from happening altogether.

Experts predict that by 2025, just two years away, that osteoporosis will be responsible for three million fractures and $25 billion in medical costs annually.

This new treatment is not just for osteoporosis, but scientists hope to treat Alzheimer’s as well. Right now, nanobubbles are being used to treat cancer patients.