ASBMR 2020: Sequential Osteoporosis Meds, AI, Bone Cancer, and More

Marlene Busko

September 09, 2020

The virtual American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) 2020 annual meeting "is full of highlights," says Lorenz Hofbauer, MD, scientific chair, but "this year you won't lose time in the hallways to switch between the talks," he quipped.

Nevertheless, "although we won't be coming together face to face this year, you will have the flexibility to virtually connect with peers and colleagues from around the world," Teresita Bellido, PhD, ASBMR president emphasized in a message to members.

Like other medical organizations, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASBMR had to quickly pivot to provide a virtual meeting.

The meeting will take place September 11-15 and is free for ASBMR members.  

Speaking to Medscape Medical News, Bellido and Hofbauer drew attention to some of the meeting's major themes, key sessions, and top clinical oral abstracts.

Attendees at this year's virtual meeting will hear the latest information on optimal sequential treatment for osteoporosis, the latest research using artificial intelligence (AI), and bone and cancer, among other topics.    

Sequential Osteoporosis Treatment a Recurring Theme

According to Hofbauer, from Dresden Technical University, Germany, the September 13 Cutting Edge symposium entitled, "Optimizing Sequential Osteoporosis Treatment," is not to be missed, and the topic "will be a leitmotiv [recurrent theme] for the entire meeting."

During this session speakers will present findings from two perspectives — basic science and clinical applications — with the latter being another recurring theme at the meeting.

Bellido, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, in Little Rock, pointed out that romosozumab (Evenity, Amgen), recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, is an example of how basic laboratory research can lead to important new therapies.

Anabolic therapies for osteoporosis that "build up bone" include teriparatide, abaloparatide, and now romosozumab, whereas antiresorptive therapies that stop bone resorption include the bisphosphonates (alendronate, risedronate, ibandronate, and zoledronic acid) and the monoclonal antibody denosumab, Bellido explained.

As osteoporosis treatment options have expanded, the timing and sequencing of optimal therapies have become much more complex, and so this session on sequencing, as well as the September 13 Concurrent Orals session, "Issues of Long-term Treatment and Discontinuation," is sure to spark interest.

The ASBMR/European Calcified Tissue Society debate, entitled, "A Treat to Target Approach is Helpful for Osteoporosis Management," is also expected to be lively and generate wide interest, according to Bellido and Hofbauer.

Michael R. McClung, MD, Oregon Osteoporosis Center, Portland, will argue against the motion and Celia Gregson, PhD, University of Bristol, UK, will argue for it. Attendees will be able to vote for/against the motion before and after the debate, and the result will indicate which speaker was more persuasive.

Bone Cancer Ultimately Damages Other Tissues

The meeting will also offer attendees a close look at bone and cancer, which is an example of how "all the homeostatic processes that occur with bone not only affect bone but also impact other tissues and organs," said Bellido.

In other words, "what happens in bone impacts other tissues — for example, skeletal muscle, the pancreas, and even frailty and fractures."

Theresa A. Guise, MD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Austin, will present the Louis V. Avioli Lecture on September 11, entitled, "Cancer, Bone and Beyond: An Integrated View of the Bone Microenvironment."

"Local events in the bone microenvironment due to cancer and cancer treatment which result in pathologic bone destruction may have widespread systemic consequences that further increase morbidity and mortality," Hofbauer noted.

Guise "will highlight cutting-edge concepts, potential mechanisms, and therapy for bone metastases," he said.

These concepts will also be discussed in more detail during a 2-day virtual premeeting symposium, presented on September 9 and 10 by the ASBMR along with the Cancer and Bone Society, entitled, "The Seed and Soil: Therapeutic Targets for Cancer in Bone."

The symposium will cover tumor dormancy, imaging, adiposity in the bone tumor microenvironment, a history of bone-targeted therapies in cancer, advances in breast cancer bone metastasis, and new approaches in myeloma bone disease.

"We have evidence from breast cancer, multiple myeloma, as well as from prostate cancer," Bellido noted, that "all those cancer cells make their home in bone and transform the bone in such a way that not only the bone is damaged but also other tissues."

"We have skeletal muscle weakness (that is directed by the effects that occur in bone), as well as changes in the pancreas — all directed by proteins and genes in bone cells."

AI, Bench to Bedside Research

"Every field is moving towards the use of AI," Bellido noted, and the September 11 plenary symposium entitled, “Artificial Intelligence and Precision Medicine in Musculoskeletal Health,” will shed light on how AI is being used to study bone health.

The session "will give us a glimpse of the future," said Hofbauer.

Session topics include principles of applications to research and clinical care in bone and mineral research; how AI can help detect rare diseases; and combining genomics with medical data using AI in precision medicine for drug discovery.

"The Bench to Bedside presentation on 'Beta Blockers and Bone' is a great example of translational research, while the Basic Symposium on 'Bones, Guts and Brains' provides inspiring and thought-provoking insights into novel physiology and tempting teleology," Hofbauer explained.

"Another fascinating Cutting Edge symposium," he added, "is on 'Inspiring Mechanistic Bone Stories from Around the Animal Kingdom,' a must-see for those employing preclinical animal models."

For more insight into early research and a research pioneer, attendees can listen to Selma Masri, PhD, from the University of California, Irvine, who will deliver the Gerald D. Aurbach Lecture entitled, "The Scientific Legacy of Paolo Sassone-Corsi: A Tour Through the Fields of Transcriptional Regulation, Epigenetics, Metabolism and Circadian Rhythms."

Masri's lab is dissecting how genetic disruption of the circadian clock in mouse models affects cancer, and she will discuss the work and legacy of the late Sassone-Corsi, as well as the future of the field.

Rare Disease, Fragility Fractures

The ASBMR meeting will also feature the latest research into rare diseases and fragility fractures.

Rare diseases are often about "more bone or less bone," said Bellido. "Understanding the mechanisms of these rare diseases can give us very important clues of treating the more common diseases."

A fragility fracture is a diagnosis of osteoporosis, but most are not treated, she continued. "This is equivalent to having, for example, a heart attack and leaving the hospital after the incident was resolved and not treating it."

"We're trying to address this gap," she said, and a symposium on September 14 will present some of the latest knowledge.

During the "Long-term Management of Fragility Fracture" symposium, speakers will discuss reducing mortality with antiosteoporotic treatment, new scenarios to prevent postfracture frailty, as well as fracture and postfracture management — surgeon and nursing perspectives.

COVID-19, Nutrition, Microbiome, and Top 5 Clinical Abstracts

In addition to plenary sessions and symposiums, there are many oral abstracts and posters on important studies in the field of bone health, including, for example, a topical study of vitamin D and COVID-19.

There are also many abstracts on nutrition, the microbiome, and treating bone loss, said Bellido.

"We have a huge increase in the number of abstracts submitted from South America and Australia compared to previous years," she noted, "and a 10% increase (from 50% to 61%) in the number of abstracts submitted by young investigators, which is crucial."

Close to 1000 abstracts (988) were submitted, two thirds of which were clinical.

The top 5 clinical abstracts reflect important current issues in the field, said Hofbauer.

"One major theme is on long-term and sequential therapy efficacy and safety," he said. And "burosumab is a game-changing new drug, and nutritional aspects are evergreens [perennial favorites], especially in the elderly population."

The top 5 clinical oral abstracts at the ASBMR 2020 meeting are:

  • Dairy supplementation reduces fractures and falls in institutionalized older adults: A cluster-randomized placebo-controlled trial (abstract 1022).

  • Treatment with zoledronate subsequent to denosumab in osteoporosis: A randomized trial (abstract 1065).

  • Efficacy of burosumab in adults with X-linked hypophosphatemia (XLH): A subgroup analysis of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 study (abstract 1044).

  • High-dose vitamin D supplementation affects bone density differently in females than males (abstract 1019).

  • Bisphosphonate use and risk of atypical femoral fractures: A nationwide Danish analysis with blinded radiographic review (abstract 1061).

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