Universities develop tissue diagnostic tool to look inside patients’ bones

October 3, 2013
Looking at bone on a microscopic level.

A hip fracture after the age of 65 could lead to death for one out of four people, but UK scientists are working on a method that will help diagnose weakened bones before they break and provide more effective treatment should a break happen.

Looking inside bone at a microscopic level

Scientists at four universities across the UK are developing a framework that helps determine the quality and strength of an individual patient's bone tissue. The research will gather clinical data using advanced imaging techniques that look inside bone on a , compared with conventional radiography that simply measures (BMD).

As bone is not made of a completely solid material, the mathematical tool will measure how porous bone tissue is, its connectivity on a microscopic level and therefore how bone tissue manages daily loads. This will not only measure , but provide essential information to diagnose individual patients' conditions and identify the most efficient treatment plan following a fracture or the general wear and tear on bone throughout life.

Improving treatment

Understanding bone quality on a microscopic level will assist the pharmaceutical industry to target relevant biological processes and develop better drugs, as well as giving doctors more information on patients' specific bone structures meaning more both to prevent a break or following one.

Dr Yuhang Chen, an expert in computational biomechanics in the School of Engineering and Physical Science at Heriot-Watt University, said, "Currently, around 25 per cent of patients aged 65 to 80 die after a . This figure could be reduced by this unique tool.

"In addition to existing technologies, our research will help doctors assess the quality and strength of a patient's leading to more effective and detailed diagnosis of individual conditions, as well as the ability to predict the likelihood of a fracture occurring.

"It will also allow people to live more flexible lifestyles after something like a hip fracture, which can often be quite debilitating and emotionally stressful."

Collaborative research between four universities

Dr Chen is working with scientists from the University of Liverpool, who are leading on the project, the University of Edinburgh and Durham University to create the new diagnostic tool, in a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Professor K Chen, Director of CMIT, in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Liverpool University, said, "This award is the result of a genuinely collaborative effort by a national team bringing together leading experts in Material Sciences, Computational Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering."

Explore further: Portable, low-cost early-warning test for osteoporosis

Related Stories

On the path to better bone health

March 8, 2013

As Australia's population ages, degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis will take an increasing toll on the nation's healthcare system.

Fat and obesity gene also affects hip fracture

September 24, 2013

Australian researchers have demonstrated a strong association between the FTO (fat and obesity) gene and hip fracture in women. While the gene is already well known to affect diabetes and obesity, this is the first study ...

Recommended for you

Zika in fetal brain tissue responds to a popular antibiotic

November 30, 2016

Working in the lab, UC San Francisco researchers have identified fetal brain tissue cells that are targeted by the Zika virus and determined that azithromycin, a common antibiotic regarded as safe for use during pregnancy, ...

Zika and glaucoma linked for first time in new study

November 30, 2016

A team of researchers in Brazil and at the Yale School of Public Health has published the first report demonstrating that the Zika virus can cause glaucoma in infants who were exposed to the virus during gestation.

Flu forecasts successful on neighborhood level

November 30, 2016

Scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health developed a computer model to predict the onset, duration, and magnitude of influenza outbreaks for New York City boroughs and neighborhoods. They found ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.