An experimental drug containing strontium makes bones denser and decreases the risk of fractures, a study of elderly women finds. The results add the drug, called strontium ranelate, to a wave of new treatments for osteoporosis.
Strontium, a soft metal with chemical similarities to calcium, is widely dispersed in nature. In the 1950s, strontium emerged as a potential osteoporosis drug because it shows a natural attraction to bone. But researchers soon shelved that approach. Strontium was later used as a treatment for bone cancer pain.
Recently, researchers combined strontium with ranelic acid to produce the experimental drug. It aided bone growth and boosted bone density in animal studies and lessened fractures in preliminary tests in people.