University research could assist osteoporosis treatment

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A project being led by Cranfield University could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Professor Keith Rogers and Dr Peter Zioupos from Cranfield Forensic Institute are using expertise in bone mineral chemistry and x-ray diffraction to develop a new technique called ‘focal construct technology’.

Ultimately, the project could lead to the development of innovative technology to improve the diagnosis and treatment of serious illnesses. It is hoped a design specification for a new system would allowing clinicians to predict a patient’s risk of fracture, information vital to the management of the patient and helping them avoid fractures.

Professor Rogers said: “The current screening approach, known as a Dexa scan, tells a clinician about a patient’s bone density, but this is only part of the story. What’s missing is information on the quality of the bone, and our new technique will indicate this.

“In the future, by combining the two screening techniques, there’s the potential for a single result which will offer a much better predication model to assist clinicians in diagnosis and treatment.”

They will make use of the University’s new state-of-the-art analytical laboratory, which uses a range of equipment to analyse materials from bone to porcelain. The £766,000 grant is one of 15 funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council who have invested a total of £12.3 million in different projects to deliver major advances in healthcare. It is hoped the projects will develop innovative technology to improve the diagnosis and treatment of serious illnesses.

As many as three million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis – a condition where the bones become thin and weak, and break easily. Project partners include academics from the University of Bristol, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Exeter, HALO X-ray Technologies LTD and Radius Diagnostics Ltd.