New test by Arizona State University in conjunction with NASA
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones and persons with this disease have bones that are weak and break easily. Osteoporosis in the vertebrae can cause serious problems for women. This disease is only diagnosed by scans in which carry harmful risks.
Now NASA scientists believe they have found a way to detect osteoporosis in the early stages of the disease and replace x-rays that can cause harm.
This new test is being developed by Arizona State University researchers in conjunction with NASA. This new test will be able to analyze urine to spot bone loss in the early stages.
This test identifies different concentrations of calcium isotopes in the urine. Adjunct professor Joseph Skulan explains “Bone is continuously being formed and destroyed.” “In healthy, active humans, these processes are in balance. But if a disease throws the balance off then you ought to see a shift in the calcium isotope ratios.”
Professor Ariel Anbar jointly appointed in the School of Earth & Space Exploration and the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Arizona State University, senior author of study stated “By the time these changes can be detected by X-rays, as a loss of bone density, significant damage has already occurred. Also, X-rays aren’t risk-free.” NASA astronauts endure bone loss due to the microgravity conditions in space.
For this study twelve healthy volunteers had been confined to bed rest for thirty days. When laying down for a long period the weight bearing bones like those in the spine or legs trigger bone loss. After thirty days urine samples were taken from the volunteers and tested.
Researchers had discovered the urine tests were able to identify the beginning stages of bone loss after one week.
Dr. Rafel Fonesca, MD, PhD, chair of the department of medicine, Mayo Clinic, Arizona, stated “The paper suggests an exciting new approach to the problem.”
Professor Anbar commented while this “proof of concept” study was simple for the patient, the mass spectrometry methods used for the analysis were more complicated, and it would likely take years of research before the test may reach the public,
The findings are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.