Dr. Richie Abel joined the Department of Surgery and Cancer in December 2010. Richie is interested in studying bone quality, with particular regard to tissue development and senescence. The general aim is to improve the diagnosis and measurement of treatment outcomes for metabolic bone diseases.
Recent research published in Nature reveals that in some patients long-term treatment with the frontline therapy for osteoporosis (bisphosphonate) might actually weaken bones. Read about it on The Guardian and The BBC.
Richie is researching bone quality: the material and structural basis for bone quality. Current research includes developing novel metrics for bone quality by measuring structural, metabolic, material and mechanical properties.
Developing state of the art 3D imaging techniques such as clinical-, micro- and synchrotron-CT to visualise the hierarchical structure of bone at the gross, micron and submicron levels respectively. Applying serum blood analysis to measure bone formation and resorption. As well as mechanically testing bone samples to measure mechanical properties (e.g. strength, stiffness and fracture toughness).
The metrics are used to assess the effects of aging, lifestyle and pharmacologic agents on bone health e.g. bisphosphonates and cancer treatments such as ADT. More recently Richie has been testing the usefulness of nano- and micro-indenters for assessing the quality of a patients bone in vivo.
As yet virtually all of the metrics, except biochemical markers, are collected ex vivo. Richie is working to identify and test devices that could be used in vivo to diagnose disease, monitor progression and evaluate treatment outcomes. The metrics could also be used to asses the efficacy of novel treatment for bone disease.
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