GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Scientists at Van Andel Institute say they discovered a gene that may help in future osteoporosis treatments.

The study’s findings were published by VAI associate professors Dr. Connie Krawczyk and Dr. Tao Yang in Science Advances.

“This is a study where we found that a gene that is specifically expressed higher in females than males that it regulated bone mass,” said Krawczyk. “We discovered in the animals that were missing this gene had really dense bones.”

The gene is called KDM5C. Researchers discovered that reducing KDM5C levels helped slow down the recycling of old bone and maintain bone mass.

According to VAI, women are more likely to experience lower bone mass than men, with nearly 19 percent of women in the U.S. aged 50 and older having osteoporosis in their hips and lower spines.

The VAI said it hopes these findings will help develop new osteoporosis treatments.

“I think the next step is really following this research and understanding more about how this gene regulates bone in the healthy setting but also in a disease setting,” said Krawczyk.