Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Little Magic Provides an Atomic-level Look at Bone

04.12.2009
A new study using solid-state NMR spectroscopy to analyze intact bone paves the way for atomic-level explorations of how disease and aging affect bone.

The research by scientists at the University of Michigan is reported in the Dec. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"If people think of bone at all---and they usually don't, until they have a fracture---they think of it as an inert material," said Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, professor of chemistry and of biophysics. "But like everything else, bone is also made up of molecules whose behavior is reflected in its structure, toughness and mechanical strength, making bone really exciting in terms of its chemistry and its contribution to health and well-being,"

As scientists strive to understand the human body and its diseases in terms of molecular behavior, bone presents a challenge to most analytical techniques. "However, solid-state NMR spectroscopy is an ideal tool for exploring what goes on inside bone at nanoscopic resolution," Ramamoorthy said. "It is possible to probe the structure and dynamics of individual molecules that constitute bone without any physical damage or chemical modification."

But while solid-state NMR spectroscopy is capable of revealing complete nanoscopic details of molecular events from most samples, it often provides so many details that they're difficult to tease apart and analyze. Ramamoorthy, whose children are fans of the Magic School Bus science series, challenged his lab group to find ways of "driving around" to explore the interior of bone, just as characters on the series might in their imaginary world. The researchers' real-world approach involved a different kind of magic.

Ramamoorthy and colleagues used a variation of solid-state NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy called magic-angle spinning, a non-invasive technique that makes solid material as amenable to analysis as solutions are. Previous NMR studies have used pulverized bone, but the U-M group's instruments and methods made it possible to analyze a sample of intact cow bone. The bone sample was shaped to just fit the rotor that is spun at the so-called magic angle inside the probe of a solid-state NMR spectrometer.

With this technique, the researchers examined changes that occur in bone with water loss. The water content of bone tissue decreases with age, which---by affecting both collagen and minerals---reduces bone's strength and toughness.

"We were able to see dynamical structural changes with the main protein, collagen," Ramamoorthy said. "Its characteristic triple helix structure was not completely damaged, but its mobility was altered, in addition to a disorder in the structure."

The success of the study makes possible future research into how bone's constituents behave under different conditions.

"We'd like to look at how bone changes at the atomic level, as a function of aging," Ramamoorthy said, "and to make comparisons between diseased and healthy bone." Such studies may provide insights into the susceptibility of bone to fracture, especially in the osteoporotic tissues of many elderly people.

Ramamoorthy's coauthors on the paper are postdoctoral fellows Peizhi Zhu and Jiadi Xu, graduate student Nadder Sahar, chemistry professor Michael Morris and David Kohn, professor of biomedical engineering and of dentistry.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.

For more information:
Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy: www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?beginswith=Ramamoorthy

Michael Morris: www.chem.lsa.umich.edu/chem/faculty/facultyDetail.php?Uniqname=mdmorris

David Kohn: www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=434

Journal of the American Chemical Society: http://pubs.acs.org/journal/jacsat

Nancy Ross-Flanigan | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>