Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Alternative indication for clinically-approved drug to treat osteoporosis and low bone mass

Technology #cu16165

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Christopher R. Jacobs
Managed By
Richard Nguyen

Osteoporosis reduces bone strength that leads to fractures and affects more than 50% of the US population over the age of 50. Current treatments are unable to build new bone and possess dangerous health risks, such as atypical fracture and osteosarcoma. This technology proposes a potential means of producing new bone in patients with osteoporosis and low bone mass by enhancing the natural bone formation response to mechanical stimulation. The technology utilizes the clinically-approved, fenoldopam (trademark name Corlopam), a drug typically used to treat hypertension. As such, this technology provides a potential treatment option for osteoporosis that can be expedited through the clinical approval process.

Clinically approved fenoldopam increases mechanosensitivity of primary cilia leading to enhanced bone formation

While bisphosphonates are commonly used to treat osteoporosis through inhibition of bone resorption by osteoclasts, these drugs cannot generate new bone. Consequently, bisphosphonates can only delay the progress of osteoporosis, but cannot reverse the damage. This technology identifies the primary cilium, a unique subcellular organelle, on osteocytes as a mechanical sensor and inducer of osteogenic signaling to bone-forming osteoblasts. Fenoldopam treatment alters primary cilia structure to increase the mechanosensitivity of osteocytes and leads to increased bone formation in response to mechanical stimulation. Since fenoldopam (and other drugs with the same mechanism of action) is already FDA-approved, this technology can dramatically reduce clinical trial costs and duration, as non-toxicity in humans has already been demonstrated. As such, the technology presents a potential therapeutic approach to reverse the damaging effects of osteoporosis using a pharmaceutical currently approved for other indications.

This technology has been efficacious in vitro and preliminary in vivo mouse studies have demonstrated that fenoldopam treatment increased bone formation following mechanical stimulation.

Lead Inventor:

Christopher R. Jacobs, Ph.D.


  • Therapeutics for osteoporosis and low bone mass
  • Drug screening for new, primary cilia-targeted, osteoporosis therapeutics
  • Therapeutics for other mechanosensitive systems with ciliopathies (kidney disease, Bardet-Biedl Syndrome, certain cancers)
  • Potential to reduce fracture risk in patients with abnormally high bone density


  • Already clinically-approved can save time and money in clinical trials
  • Application in many different conditions with ciliopathies (bones, kidneys, cancers)
  • No off-target impairment of normal bone formation and resorption

Patent Information:

Patent Pending

Tech Ventures Reference: IR CU16165

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