On the path to better bone health

March 8, 2013, Flinders University
On the path to better bone health
3D micro-CT rendering of a proximal human radius bone.

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

In a bid to prevent the burden of disease, researchers from Flinders University are using advanced to better understand how and why bone loss occurs in the elderly.

Chief investigator Dr Egon Perilli said a special X-ray method known as a micro-computed tomography, or micro-CT, is enabling his team to analyse the complex structures of the skeletal system, including bone density and the thin internal features of the bone, in 3D.

He said the technique allows researchers to characterise the "microarchitecture" of the bone at a level which cannot be seen with conventional scanners in clinics.

"Conventionally, to see images at the same level, you have to take a biopsy, literally slice it up and look at it under a microscope but when you cut it up you destroy the 3D features," Dr Perilli, Senior Research Fellow based in the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, said.

"On the other hand, micro-CT allows us to preserve the 3D structure of the bone biopsy because you don't need to cut it up to examine it," he said.

"The same bone can also undergo , and the data used in , to investigate the relationships between , and mechanical competence.

"With the previous method at the microscope, you'd need to take two separate samples to get that kind of information because the first one would have been destroyed by cutting it up."

By understanding how bone loss occurs in the elderly, Dr Perilli said he hoped to contribute to develop better diagnostic tools to identify patients at-risk of fractures while creating advances in the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases.

"Many patients currently identified as osteoporotic, and therefore at increased risk of fracture, might not actually experience a fracture later in life. Yet they fall into this risk category because of their low areal bone mineral density; and thus probably receive pharmaceutical treatment.

"However, there are also a number of people who instead don't fall into the osteoporotic category and are possibly not getting treatment when they should.

"So a key aim of this research is to find a way to better diagnose patients at risk.

"If we better understand why happens, and how to identify when a patient has lost a critical amount of that would put them at risk of fracture, we can look at developing more targeted therapies to reduce that risk and also delay, if not obviate, the need for hospitalisation or expensive surgery associated with fracture repair."

Explore further: Consider bone test for many conditions, medications

Related Stories

Consider bone test for many conditions, medications

April 15, 2011
When it comes to bone health, age and family history of osteoporosis aren’t the only reasons to consider testing for fracture risk.

Method for assessing hand bone density may prevent hip fractures

November 19, 2012
A new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden shows, that a technique for measuring bone density called digital X-ray radiogrammetry (or DXR) used on standard hand radiographs can help to identify patients with a higher ...

Recommended for you

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

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.