Genetics of Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ)

Published by Alicia Ferguson on

Genetics of Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ)
What is Jaw Osteonecrosis (ONJ)? 

ONJ is the death of bone cells in the jaw. This rare condition can happen when an area of the jaw bone is exposed or broken and blood is not able to get the area. The lack of blood supply can lead to the bones breaking, exposing through the jaw, or causing the jaw to collapse. The risk of getting ONJ is sometimes increased after having oral or jaw surgery or taking certain medications. 

The symptoms of ONJ can include

  • jaw pain or swelling
  • infection of the jaw 
  • loose teeth 
  • bleeding of the mouth and gums 

The cause of ONJ is not fully understood. Some researchers believe that people who take certain medications, such as bisphosphonates (BPs), for bone problems and aggressive cancers are at a higher risk of developing ONJ. 

How is the research done?

The research team wants to find ways to predict who might get ONJ. They specifically want to figure out if taking BPs is associated with developing ONJ. The team will use BioVU resources to look at the genes of those with ONJ. They will try to find traits or specific genetic markers that make someone more likely to get ONJ. They will also look for specific gene markers or patterns that may show how BPs induce ONJ. This can help show if BPs are safe and find treatment options that keep people healthy. 

What is the importance of this study? 

ONJ is a rare condition that scientists and doctors want to learn more about. Researchers want to learn more about the genetic connection between BPs and ONJ. This research may provide new methods of care for those with this condition. It can also find ways to improve drug treatment and prevent ONJ.