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IOF Servier Young Investigator award goes to professor studying genetics in the United States and China

May 16, 2004

Are genetics responsible for differences in bone mineral density found in Asians and Caucasians?

The 2004 IOF-Servier Young Investigator Research Award, worth euro 40,000, was presented today to Professor Hong-Wen Deng.

The presentation was made at the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis, being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Hong-Wen Deng, who holds a tenured position at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, USA, and also a secondary appointment at HuNan Normal University, China, won the award for his proposal to study comparative genetics of osteoporosis in Caucasians and Asians (Chinese).

"Bones in Asians and Caucasians tend to have different geometries and in Asians bone mineral density is generally lower," said Prof. Pierre Delmas, IOF president and member of the award selection committee. "It is important to understand the biological basis for these differences," he added.

Deng hopes that his study will help reveal genetic variations that contribute to differences in bone mineral densities between the two populations. This information may in turn lead to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for the management of osteoporosis.

Bone mineral density (BMD) varies considerably from person to person. About 50 % of this variation is thought to have a genetic basis. While much work has been done to identify genetic differences within ethnic populations that might explain BMD fluctuation, less work has been done to identify those differences that may exist between ethnic groups.

Deng has previously identified several different genes that may explain ethnic variation in BMD, but for the purposes of this study he will focus on a gene called low density lipoprotein receptor related protein 5 (LRP-5). Previous evidence indicates that this gene is a good candidate for this work.

Deng will study changes to the genetic code for LRP-5 that have previously been discovered, and will examine whether these changes are more prevalent in one population or the other. He has already recruited 405 core families and their extended members in the US, and 401 families in China, who will volunteer for genotyping and bone mineral density scans. He expects to complete the project by June 2005.

This IOF-Servier Young Investigator Research Award is awarded to young scientists under age 40 for original research work in the field of osteoporosis. The grant, awarded every two years at the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis, is made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from Servier Research Group. The first IOF-Servier Award was awarded in June 2000.


The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is a worldwide organization dedicated to the fight against osteoporosis. It brings together scientists, physicians, patient societies and corporate partners. Working with its 165 member societies in more than 85 locations, and other healthcare-related organizations around the world, IOF encourages awareness and prevention, early detection and improved treatment of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, in which the bones become porous and break easily, is one of the world's most common and debilitating diseases. The result: pain, loss of movement, inability to perform daily chores, and in many cases, death. One out of three women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will one out of eight men(1). Unfortunately, screening for people at risk is far from being a standard practice. Osteoporosis can, to a certain extent, be prevented, it can be easily diagnosed and effective treatments are available.

1 Melton U, Chrischilles EA, Cooper C et al. How many women have osteoporosis? Journal of Bone Mineral Research, 1992; 7:1005-10

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International Osteoporosis Foundation:

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