A new technique developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute allows researchers to collect large amounts of biochemical information from nanoscale bone samples.
Along with adding important new insights into the fight against osteoporosis, this innovation opens up an entirely new proteomics-based approach to analyzing bone quality. It could even aid the archeological and forensic study of human skeletons.
“We’re able to take very small, nanoscale-sized bone samples, and determine the protein signatures of the bone,” said Deepak Vashishth, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer, who led the study. “This is a relatively quick, easy way for us to determine the history of the bone – how and when it formed – as well as the quality of the bone, and its likelihood to fracture.”
Results of the study, titled “Biochemical Characterization of Major Bone-Matrix Proteins Using Nanoscale-Size Bone Samples and Proteomics Methodology,” were released online in late May by the journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. The journal, published by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, will also feature the paper in an upcoming print edition. The study may be viewed online at: http://bit.ly/lAfSfI.
The research, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was conducted in the laboratories of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer.
Bones are primarily composed of mineral, with the remaining amount comprised of organic material. The vast majority of the organic material is collagen. The remaining non-collagenous organic material is a mixture of other proteins, which form an interlinked matrix. The quality of this matrix varies greatly with age, nutrition, and disease. Vashishth and his research group investigate this bone matrix to determine how the interaction and modification of individual proteins impact the development, structure, and strength of the overall bone.
In this study, they paired laser-capture microscopy with several other techniques to create an entirely new method for analyzing bone matrix. The analysis yields data about the concentration of different proteins in the bone matrix, which in turn leads to key information about the bone – such as when it was formed, how it has been modified, and if it is more or less prone to fracture.
Vashishth said this is an important step toward augmenting current osteoporosis diagnosis techniques, which measure bone loss and the quantity of bone present, with new, minimally invasive, proteomics-driven techniques for assessing the quality of the bone.
The young field of proteomics focuses on the structure and function of proteins, and is ripe for innovation, Vashishth said. The term “proteomics” echoes the word genomics, the study of genes. Proteomics seeks to decode the human proteome by documenting the structure, function, and interactions of proteins.
“This is kind of a new area, because bone fracture has always been looked at from a bone calcium perspective, a mineral perspective, and current osteoporosis treatment methods are all geared toward that,” he said. “In osteoporosis, very little attention has been paid to bone proteins. That’s why we’re very excited about our new proteomics-based method to read a bone’s protein signature, and assess the quality of the bone. I think it opens up a new avenue for approaching and studying osteoporosis.”
Like all tissues in the human body, bones regenerate themselves over time. Bones regenerate much slower than other tissues, however, and the skeleton takes about 10 years to gradually replace itself with new tissue. Different parts of a bone regenerate at different rates, meaning some areas of a bone may be older and more susceptible to fracture, while other areas of the same bone are newer and sturdier. Older and younger parts of a bone have different protein signatures and react differently to medical treatments. Vashishth said his new method is an easy way to help differentiate between different aged areas of bone, determine their quality, and forecast their susceptibility to fracture.
Finally, along with pushing forward the emerging field of bone proteomics and opening up new possibilities for studying and treating osteoporosis, Vashishth’s findings could prove useful to researchers in other areas who deal with bone. Forensics, biology, anthropology, archaeology, and other areas where bone samples are truly rare, small, and precious would likely find it useful to analyze bone protein signatures with minimal damage to the bone sample, he said. This protein signature information could offer new insight into how bones were formed, along with the nutrition and diet of those individuals.
Co-authors of the study are Wilfredo Colon, professor in the Rensselaer Department of Chemistry and Biological Chemistry; as well as postdoctoral researcher Grazyna Sroga and doctoral student Lamya Karim, both in the Rensselaer Department of Biomedical Engineering.
For more information on Vashishth and his research at Rensselaer, visit:• Faculty Home Page
Michael Mullaney | Newswise Science News
Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University
Researchers discover specific tumor environment that triggers cells to metastasize
22.11.2017 | University of California - San Diego
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
22.11.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.11.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.11.2017 | Health and Medicine