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16 September 2021

Sheffield doctors win awards for research on osteoporosis

Two researchers from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals have received awards for work they have done on treatments for osteoporosis.

Dr Marian Schini, a consultant at the Metabolic Bone Centre at the Northern General Hospital and a clinical research fellow at the University of Sheffield, and Dr Lorenza Mattia, a visiting clinical fellow at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and the University, have been awarded Young Investigator Awards by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR). They will attend its Annual Meeting virtually in October to present their work.

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them more fragile and likely to break.

Dr Schini’s work related to treatment with a medication called zoledronic acid. The treatment can lower the risk of hip and vertebral fractures, but kidney function needs to be evaluated before it can be given.

Dr Schini’s evaluation showed that a newer method of estimating the kidney function, called estimated glomerular filtration rate or eGFR, was as effective as older methods but also had the benefit of being easier to obtain and was considered more accurate as it is automatically estimated in the lab when a patient has a blood test.

After review by the Medicines Safety Committee it could enable more patients to have treatment with zoledronic acid, reducing their risk of fracture and helping everyday practice nationally and internationally.

Dr Mattia was recognised for her work investigating a category of drugs called bisphosphonates.

The effectiveness of treatment with the drugs is monitored either with a bone scan after two years of treatment, or with a blood test carried out at the beginning of the treatment and at six months. The blood test method is used in Sheffield.

Dr Mattia’s work demonstrated that patients monitored with the blood test were more likely to have better outcomes, both in terms of improved bone density or in making the decision to switch to other treatments if the medication was not effective.

Dr Schini said: “We are very proud that to have been recognised for this work, which we hope will lead to improved treatments and outcomes for patients with osteoporosis both here in Sheffield but also nationally and internationally.”

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