Health Research Groups
Bone is a tissue that continually changes through a process of turnover. Existing bone is reabsorbed and new bone is formed by cells. In humans, this process of turnover begins in utero (in the uterus or womb) and continues throughout our lives. In the 1960’s Harold Frost discovered that these two types of cells work do not work in isolation, but together to remove old bone and create new bone within isolated structural packets – he called this cellular organization “intermediary”. This is the core of modern bone biology, and it is this intermediary level of organization that is the primary agent of bone adaptation and disease.
Many factors affect skeletal health directly at this level. Osteoporosis results from an imbalance between resorption and formation, and some forms of arthritis have been linked to the renewed turnover of the bone that underlies the cartilage of the joints.
Researchers are not currently able to see and understand what is going at this level of cellular organization without using destructive chemical agents. Consequently, research aimed at preventing, potentially reversing and thus curing, bone disease is limited by our inability to fully assess the interaction between cells and tissue. However, researchers at the U of S are working hard to address these research limitations. For example, David Cooper recently revealed the potential of high-resolution imaging to provide such analysis in vitro (outside the body) with isolated tissue samples.