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What controls the development of strong cortical bone?

What controls the development of strong cortical bone?

PhD/Honours project

Even though we know that strong cortical bone in early adulthood will protect people from developing osteoporosis late in life, we do not understand how cortical bone develops. If we can understand it, we might be able to develop therapies that could specifically strengthen the bones of patients with osteoporosis, or may be able to help people live a healthier lifestyle that could increase their cortical bone strength. Studying cortical bone development has always been difficult because cortical bone develops at the same time as the rapid increase in bone length, so it has been hard to separate these two processes.

We have developed a mouse model that will allow us to study the process of corticalisation. These mice do not develop cortical bone until they have completed their longitudinal growth, so we can study “corticalisation” independently of bone growth. Using genetic crosses and in vivo micro-computed tomography this project will determine how different interventions (such as mechanical loading) influence the development of cortical bone. In addition, since we developed this model by deleting of a specific group of cytokines, the project will also study how those cytokines act within osteocytes, the matrix embedded cells of the bone matrix.

This project will use small animal techniques, histology and histomorphometry, micro-computed tomography, immunohistochemistry, molecular biology, and quantitative PCR techniques.

Supervised by:

  • Prof Natalie Sims
  • Disease Focus:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Research Unit:

  • Bone cell biology and disease