Individuals with PWS are at higher risk for osteoporosis than the general population. Osteoporosis is due to low bone mineral density and leads to weakened bone strength and increased risk for fractures.
Dr. Yossi Tam at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is working on a project to better understand the biological mechanism of increased osteoporosis in PWS. The project, "Role of the Endocannabinoid System In PWS-Induced Osteoporosis and Skeletal Growth," is funded by FPWR.Starting in an animal model of PWS, Dr. Tam's group is specifically looking at the endocannbinoid system, a pathway known to be involved in skeletal growth. They hypothesize that this system may be overactive in PWS, leading to excess bone resorption and/or decreased bone growth. Both of these would ultimately lead to weakened or fragile bones and osteoporosis.
Identifying and understanding the root biological cause of osteoporosis in PWS is the first step towards developing clinical therapies. If the results from this project support that an overactive endocannibinoid system is a contribuing factor, there are currently inhibitors in development that could be tested in clinical trials for treatment of osteoporosis in PWS.