Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Battling Brittle Bones ... With Broccoli and Spinach?

12.12.2012
Engineering Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Pinpoint the Origin of Bone Fractures
A new study from engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows, for the first time, how the little-understood protein osteocalcin plays a significant role in the strength of our bones. The findings could lead to new strategies and therapeutics for fighting osteoporosis and lowering the risk of bone fracture.

Funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the study details how fractures in healthy bones begin with the creation of incredibly tiny holes, each measuring only about 500 atoms in diameter, within the bone’s mineral structure. In the case of a slip, trip, or fall, the force of the impact on a bone physically deforms a pair of joined proteins, osteopontin and osteocalcin, and results in the formation of nanoscale holes. These holes, called dilatational bands, function as a natural defense mechanism, and help to prevent further damage to the surrounding bone. However, if the force of the impact is too great—or if the bone is lacking osteopontin, osteocalcin, or both—the bone will crack and fracture.

The multi-university study, led by Deepak Vashishth, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer, is the first to give evidence of fracture at the level of bone’s nanostructure. Partnering with Rensselaer on the study were Villanova University, the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and Yale University.

“This study is important because it implicates, for the first time, the role of osteocalcin in giving bone the ability to resist fracture,” Vashishth said. “Since osteocalcin is always the point of fracture, we believe that strengthening it could lead to a strengthening of the overall bone.”

Long known but little understood, the protein osteocalin has been produced by and present in animal bones since before the dawn of humanity. Recently, abnormalities in ostoecalcin production have been associated with type 2 diabetes as well as problems in reproductive health. Vashishth’s new study, however, is the first to explain the structural and mechanical importance of osteocalcin in bone.

Now that osteocalcin is known to participate in bone fracture, new strategies for strengthening the bond between osteocalin and osteopontin can be investigated, Vashishth said. Augmenting the body’s natural supply of osteocalcin, for example, could be one possible strategy for treating osteoporosis and other conditions leading to increased fracture risk, he said. Osteocalin must be in its carboxylated form to get absorbed into bone, and the protein is carboxylated by vitamin K. Vashishth said future studies could investigate the relation between vitamin K intake, osteocalcin, and bone strength.

“Currently, all of the advice for treating osteoporosis is related to calcium. We believe there’s more to the story than just calcium, and the results of this new study raise an important question about vitamin K. Leafy green vegetables are the best source of vitamin K—wouldn’t it be great if eating spinach and broccoli was not only healthy, but also good for your bones? We plan to investigate this link in future,” Vashisth said.

Results of the new study, titled “Dilatational band formation in bone,” were recently published online by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and will appear in an upcoming print edition of the journal. The study may be viewed online at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/10/31/1201513109.full.pdf

At Rensselaer, this research was conducted in the laboratories of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Along with Vashisth, co-authors of the paper are Rensselaer BME graduate students Atharva Poundarik and, Tamim Diab, BME post-doctoral fellows Grazyna Sroga, and Ani Ural (currently a faculty member at Villanova University), Adele Boskey of the Musculoskeletal Integrity Program at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and Caren Gundberg of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Yale University.

For more information on Vashishth and his research at Rensselaer, visit:

Faculty Home Page
http://faculty.rpi.edu/node/1101
New Technique Yields Troves of Information From Nanoscale Bone Samples
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2891
Proteins To Yield New Clues in Fight Against Osteoporosis
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2771
Rensselaer Professor Deepak Vashishth Named Fellow of AIMBE
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2954
Rensselaer Department of Biomedical Engineering
http://www.bme.rpi.edu/
Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu

Michael Mullaney | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rpi.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

nachricht Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Reconstructing what makes us tick

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cheap 3-D printer can produce self-folding materials

25.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>