CHEMICAL compounds called bisphosphonates, some of which were originally used as water softeners, are playing an increasing role in the treatment of metastatic skeletal malignancies. The development may provide new insights into the normal processes involved in bone remodeling.
Some solid tumors, especially those of the breast, prostate, and lung, readily metastasize to bone, where they stimulate its formation or, more frequently, its destruction. Since bisphosphonates inhibit bone turnover by decreasing bone resorption, investigators have become interested in studying their possible use for controlling or even preventing metastatic skeletal lesions.
"We've been remiss in not considering this specific problem of bone metastasis. We need to understand it to develop rational ways of preventing and treating it. The information is now available or is on the horizon which can really make a difference in this process," said Gregory Mundy, MD, introducing a symposium last month at the National Institutes of Health