2 minute read  •  Research

Boosting bone health for a better quality of life

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Mater Research’s Dr Allison Pettit is currently examining macrophages—macro from the Greek, meaning ‘big’ and phage ‘a thing that devours’. These ‘big eaters’ are a type of white blood cell that was first described based on their ability to engulf and destroy bacteria and turn on the immune system during infection.

Macrophages enter and reside within most organs throughout life and one of their normal jobs is to engulf and digest dying and damaged cells, including pre-cancerous cells, making them an important front line defence against cancer. They also help each organ perform its normal functions and regenerate after injury.

Dr Pettit’s research has revealed that macrophages play a key role in promoting blood and bone health, and her team continues to work towards a better understanding of how macrophages work and interact with both healthy and damaged cells within the body.

Importantly, this research may be significant in the treatment of prostate cancer, which often metastasises or spreads to the bones of men with the disease. This is incredibly painful for them, and difficult to treat.

If Mater Research can use macrophages to improve bone health, this could minimise the impact of prostate cancer bone metastasis for these men, leading to an improved quality of life.

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