A team of researchers from UTSA and investigators from other institutions have been working toward a solution for fractures resulting from osteoporosis, a pathological disorder characterized by low bone mass and bone tissue deterioration, for the past 20 years. Osteoporosis results in brittle bones that can easily be fractured from a fall or even a mild stress, such as bending over or coughing.

“We are studying the role of a group of proteins, proteoglycans, in sustaining the toughness of bone and its effect on age-related bone fragility fractures. We expect to develop a therapeutic treatment to prevent or deter the incidents [of fractures from osteoporosis],” Xiaodu Wang, professor in the UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering and principal investigator of this project, said.

Osteoporosis typically affects the elderly since the process of bone renewal slows substantially after your early 20s, and peak bone mass is typically reached by 30 years of age. Additionally, hormone production, which strengthens bones, decreases over time. Though most students are typically still renewing more bone mass than they’re losing and usually don’t have low hormone production, they may still be affected by this research as well.

Essentially, this research has the potential to not only reduce instances of fractures in those who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis but also to prevent future fractures for young people who may be at risk of developing osteoporosis as they age.

Wang hopes that his research improves the ability to predict and prevent where bone fractures could occur in individuals with osteoporosis.

“Currently, bone mineral density-based T-score is used for diagnosis of osteoporosis, which is not accurate for predicting potential bone fractures,” Wang said. “This study may provide additional biomarkers for improving the prognosis of bone fractures.”

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