Osteoporosis breakthrough

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Scottish scientists have developed a blood test which will identify women at risk of the brittle-bone disease, osteoporosis, it was announced yesterday.

Professor Stuart Ralston and his colleagues at Aberdeen University have discovered that osteoporosis, which affects 3 million people in Britain, is strongly linked with a mutation in a gene responsible for healthy bone production.

A simple blood test can identify carriers of the gene and will allow doctors to prescribe preventive treatment, including changes in diet, exercise, mineral supplementation, drug or hormone therapy, to limit the effects of the disease. The test, hailed yesterday as a breakthrough in the management of the disease, is expected to be in routine clinical use in five years' time, Professor Ralston said. Liz Hunt