Can probiotics slow osteoporosis in early menopause?


Pendulum Therapeutics has teamed up with Australian Catholic University to investigate the impact of probiotics on metabolism in early-stage menopause

Can probiotics slow osteoporosis in early menopause?

US biotech company Pendulum Therapeutics has collaborated with bone health care researchers at Australian Catholic University (ACU) on research into the impact of targeted formulation of probiotic strains and prebiotic fibre on slowing or stopping bone thinning in early postmenopausal women.

Professor Mattias Lorentzon from the Bone Health and Fractures Research Program at the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research at ACU will lead the OsteoPreP study.  

Microbiome research has rapidly expanded in the last decade leading to the identification of how keystone bacterial strains function in the gut to impact health throughout the body. Less commonly articulated is the connection between the gut microbiome and bone health. With osteoporosis impacting 1 out of 3 women over the age of 50 worldwide and an economic cost of related fractures estimated to be greater than $130 billion by 2050, strategies to improve age-related decline in bone health are imperative.

"Research indicates that the gut microbiome, specifically butyrate-producing bacterial strains, may play an important role in bone health," said Professor Lorentzon. "OsteoPreP was designed based on the knowledge that targeted probiotic strains can increase production of short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, influencing not only healthy bones, but overall metabolic health, including muscle mass and weight, as we age. When we saw published data showing that Pendulum’s formulation increased butyrate in a clinical trial, we were excited to team up with their scientists on this project.

"If the results of the study show what we anticipate, it is entirely possible that we may be able to avoid osteoporosis in high-risk populations by targeting the microbiome

While this is primarily a bone health study, investigators are also looking at outcomes related to memory, muscle and fat mass, blood sugar, mental health, and general well-being. There is an emerging body of evidence linking the gut microbiome to cognitive, muscle and cardiometabolic function. Such studies indicate that probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) or prebiotics (food for healthy bacteria, i.e. fibre) can increase the amount of short chain fatty acids produced by the gut bacteria which may contribute to the broader beneficial effects of improved gut health.

Pendulum Glucose Control, the probiotic formulation used in OsteoPreP was previously shown in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to significantly improve A1c and post-meal glucose spikes in people with type 2 diabetes taking metformin.

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"If the results of the study show what we anticipate, it is entirely possible that we may be able to avoid osteoporosis in high-risk populations by targeting the microbiome," said Dr Orville Kolterman, Chief Medical Officer at Pendulum Therapeutics. "Pendulum is leading the way in microbiome research and technology, bringing these novel solutions to the market. Strong research collaborations, like the clinical trial with ACU, will substantiate that the microbiome is the next frontier in human health.