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You are receiving this email because you subscribed to the Lefteris ask science. I am Lefteris and I will be sending you weekly emails with science news that I found interesting the past week. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends and on your social media. 

This week we celebrate the birthday of my mother. That’s it she’s the best, no need to say more. I also updated my website. You can see how I look, hear old episodes and take a look at all the other projects that I’m working on here

The newsletter this week dedicates a big portion to osteoporosis as it is also World Osteoporosis Day. I figured it is a good time to see what osteoporosis is, who it affects, and see what are the latest trends in research for osteoporosis. Of course, that’s not all of it as there is more news about anger management, ketamine, and material science. 

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Selective Focus Photography of Skeleton

What is Osteoporosis

Today is world osteoporosis day and I thought it would be a good time to discuss a bit what is osteoporosis, how it affects people, what are the risk factors, and what are the latest discoveries surrounding the treatment of osteoporosis.

Just to flex a bit on my Greek language knowledge (It’s not too hard, you only have to be born and live 25 years in Greece), the word osteoporosis comes from the Greek words “osteo” which means bone, and the word “poros” that mean passage or pore. This means that your bones become more brittle because they lose density and become full of holes. Due to the porous bones, people experience broken bones, more pain, and difficulty in activities.

When you are an adult 10% of your skeleton is new every year. This happens due to 2 main cells, osteoblasts that secrete new bone, and osteoclasts that break down bone. With the adequate supply of calcium the close cooperation of the two cells and the myriads of hormones that regulate their function your body is able to continuously replenish your bones all the time. When we are in our 20s, the mass of our bones peaks (just like your energy to party!). When you’re healthy there is an equilibrium between the bone that the osteoblasts secrete and the bone that osteoclasts break down. However, for people with osteoporosis more and more skeleton is lost making their bones gradually porous and more brittle.

It is very hard to identify that you have osteoporosis until you break something that’s why it is important to find out about it early and recognize the factors that put you at higher risk. The most common fractures that don’t get diagnosed as osteoporosis are spine fractures that are usually wrongly associated with just normal getting old back pains. Other symptoms of osteoporosis include loss of height (I shit you not), change in posture, and shortness of breath.

Everyone is at risk of developing osteoporosis however, women over 50 or postmenopausal women have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. Men above 50 are also more likely to develop osteoporosis than to get prostate cancer. There are many other physiological factors and medical conditions that increase your risk of osteoporosis. If you want to find out more about osteoporosis and even take a test to see if you are at risk of developing osteoporosis at the website of the world osteoporosis day page here.

While we know the mechanisms as to how bones are regenerated, scientists are still looking into the reasons why osteoclasts break down more bone than the osteoblasts generate. Last week, a team of researchers from the University of Virginia found a cellular protein called ELMO1 that promotes the activity of osteoclasts. In their work, they managed to control that ELMO1 protein and thus control the rate of bone break down. The previous works trying to control osteoclasts as a whole but the potential treatments failed because of the connection of the osteoclasts with other cells that also replace bones. You can read more about this new method of controlling bone breakdown in the article from news medical here.


Expressive angry businessman in formal suit looking at camera and screaming with madness while hitting desk with fist

Why are we angry?

There are many reasons to get angry in this world. Whether it’s the injustices in the world, the political actions of some people, or just simply your boss, people get angry for a variety of reasons. Scientists have been trying to figure out what happens exactly in your brain when you get angry. Especially what happens to people’s brains that are usually angry or get easily agitated. Now researchers from Sungkyunkwan University and Duke University did a study trying to figure out how the human connectome looks like in different people (we discussed the human connectome in edition 27 of the podcast with Andrea Luppi).In other words, they were trying to see what regions of the brain interact with each other more often when people are angry and they found that 3 different regions of the brain are hyperconnected with the sensorimotor in people that get angry easier. Find out what this study could achieve for future treatment of anger management, and more details about the discovery in the article from PsyPost here.


Need More Nobel?

1. Ketamine investigated as potential obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment, by Leafie
2. New fibers can make breath-regulating garments, by MIT News


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