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Our Research

As it stands today, the gold standard for fracture risk prediction and identification of osteoporosis is based on bone mineral density (BMD) using dual-energy X-ray absorption (DXA). However, BMD only currently identifies 50-60% of potential fractures.

Our research team focuses on the assessment of bone quality instead, which includes not only BMD but also bone microarchitecture and bone chemistry (i.e. the material properties of bone). This information can be obtained using micro-computed tomography (μ-CT) for the microarchitectural properties and X-ray diffraction (XRD) for the material properties. Alongside the fundamental science, this research applies a newly developed technology, Focal Construct Geometry (FCG), to measure the XRD signatures in vivo with the precision required for the fracture model.

Experiments have been performed to assess fracture risk through bone chemistry and bone microarchitecture. We investigated into the microarchitectural and material properties of over 100 bone specimens, who either had suffered a fracture due to osteoporosis or had never suffered a fracture. This allowed us to understand the age trends and the differences in osteoporotic materials. 

A novel X-ray diffraction technology, referred to as Focal Construct Technology (FCT), which was initially developed for security screening applications, has been employed to analyse fractured and non-fractured bone. More information on FCT can be found here . . .  


For the first time, principal component analysis (PCA) was carried out using raw diffraction data and the results have indicated successful discrimination between osteoporotic and non-osteoporotic bone with 93% sensitivity and 91% specificity.

The research outcomes have indicated significant architectural and material differences between osteoporotic and normal bone specimens. Moreover, our key findings have highlighted that osteoporosis is not simply a progressive aging disease as reported by some researchers and is in fact an accelerated process.

For further details on our research methodology and findings please refer to Dicken et al. (2016) and Greenwood et al. (2016)*.

*DICKEN, A., EVANS, J. P. O., ROGERS, K. D., STONE, N., GREENWOOD, C., GODBER, S. X., CLEMENT, J. G., LYBURN, I. D., MARTIN, R. M. & ZIOUPOS, P. 2016. Classification of fracture and nonfracture groups by analysis of coherent X-ray scatter. Scientific Reports 6, 29011.

GREENWOOD, C., CLEMENT, J., DICKEN, A., EVANS, J.P.O., LYBURN, I., MARTIN, R. M., ROGERS, K., STONE, N. & ZIOUPOS, P. 2016. Towards new material biomarkers for fracture risk. Bone 93, 55-63.

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