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Creighton Awarded $3.2 Million to Explore Other Causes of Osteoporosis

Creighton Awarded $3.2 Million to Explore Other Causes of Osteoporosis

Why do some women develop osteoporosis even when their bone mass is good, they exercise regularly, and they consume plenty of calcium? It’s a medical mystery that the Creighton University School of Medicine hopes to unravel with the help of a $3.2 million grant recently awarded the University by the National Institutes of Health.

While bone density is an important factor in determining a person’s risk of osteoporosis – a condition in which bones become fragile and prone to breakage – it’s not the only factor, said Robert Recker, M.D., the study’s principal investigator and director of Creighton’s Osteoporosis Research Center.

“Bone quality defects, other than low bone density, account for more than half of the patients who suffer from osteoporosis and are at risk of low-stress fractures,” Recker said. “These defects have been described but not yet fully explored. We hope to characterize these defects in bone quality and identify how they contribute to low-trauma fractures in postmenopausal women, the population most at risk of osteoporosis.”

The five-year study will include 120 postmenopausal women between the ages of 45 and 70 who have osteopenia, considered a precursor to osteoporosis, in which the rate of new bone formation is abnormally low. Participants will include 60 women, who have suffered low- or no-trauma fractures during the previous four years, and a control group that has similar bone density but has not experienced low-trauma fractures.

For the study, Creighton will identify 120 women who have osteopenia through a series of tests and bone biopsies. The biopsies will then undergo examination by researchers from University of California, San Francisco; Johns Hopkins University; INSERM in Lyon, France; Columbia University in New York; and University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering.

“Each of the institutions involved in the study have the expertise and tools needed to perform certain tests that no one research center in the world could accomplish on its own,” Recker noted. “We believe this will be the most comprehensive examination to date of bone quality defects that cause bone fractures in otherwise healthy, postmenopausal women.”

“Our goal is to explore other known and possibly unknown causes of osteoporosis so that we can develop effective preventive and treatment measures for an estimated 40 million persons in the United States alone who have osteoporosis and are at risk of fractures.”

Women interested in participating in the study should call 402.280.BONE and note that they would like to be considered for the Bone Quality Study.