Oct. 30, 2019 — About half of all women in the U.S. will suffer a bone fracture due to osteoporosis. For women, the incidence of this condition is greater than that of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. Now, researchers at UTSA have received multimillion-dollar funding to reexamine bone mineral density, a measure of bone fracture risks, and another critical component in bone known as proteoglycans.
UTSA scientists believe that proteoglycans, which occur naturally in bones’ extrafibrillar matrix in a small amount (less than 1.0% in volume), interact with water to sustain bones’ ductility, or their ability to absorb energy and resist fracture.
“If there are proteoglycans in your bones, we think you are better equipped to resist a fracture during a fall,” said Xiaodu Wang, a professor in UTSA’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the principal investigator on the project, who will examine if this group of proteins indeed make bones tougher by absorbing water into the bone structure.
Data show that BMD captures only about 50% to 60% of actual bone fragility fractures. According to Wang, when bones lose proteoglycans they appear to lose their capability to resist fractures irrespective of BMD. Wang’s laboratory seeks to understand the underlying mechanism and thus prevent or deter the loss of the proteins before bone brittleness develops.
⇒ Visit UTSA’s Mechanics of Biological Materials / Structures Lab online.
As part of the study, UTSA researchers will inject the proteins into animal models and then examine what is the appropriate strategy to best maintain the proteins in the bone matrix. They will also examine whether reversing the process of proteoglycan deficiency is possible for different gender and age groups.
Wang had a eureka moment when he thought about articulate cartilage—the firm, whitish, flexible connective tissue found in joints. It has been well known that damage to the cartilage will result in osteoarthritis.
“Supplements like chondroitin (a type of sugar protein in proteoglycans) are taken to help with osteoarthritis,” said Wang. “I then thought the same could be examined with these water-absorbing proteins [proteoglycans] in bone.”
This UTSA research will ultimately seek to answer why water loss associated with proteoglycan deficiency leads to potential bone brittleness. It will also explore what happens to the bone’s microstructure when it has a fracture.
Collaborating with UT Health San Antonio researcher Jean Jiang, Wang is one of very few scientists in the country studying the effect of these proteins on bone quality. He has close to a decade of experience on this particular subject. Recently the National Institutes of Health granted his laboratory $2.3 million to embark on this field of work. It’s anticipated that he will have results in five years.
Bone fragility fractures affect not only women but also all elderly as well as people with diabetes. The disease is responsible for an estimated 2 million broken bones per year, yet nearly 80% of older Americans who suffer bone breaks are not diagnosed or treated for osteoporosis.
“It’s about building and testing a model that includes all factors, not just bone mineral density, that cause bone fragility fractures,” said Wang. “My mother-in-law broke her hip. This is also personal for me.”
Osteoporosis is serious, even deadly. About one in four patients over the age of 70 that suffers a hip fracture will die the following year.
This project is an example of UTSA’s commitment to solving society’s most pressing global health challenges.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th anniversary year and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
Come to Bandera Market to celebrate national Hispanic Heritage Month with Hispanic vendors from a variety of countries. Free entry.Bandera Pointe Shopping Center,11627 Bandera Road
The College for Health, Community and Policy at UTSA is proud to present the Dean's Community Lecture Series, a series of events bringing community leaders from San Antonio and beyond to foster the natural leadership abilities of students while discussing critical topics in our community.Virtual Event
A video on Instagram Live (@UTSA_MSCEJ) of Chef Jesse Moreno-Valle from Aramark creating a couple of great dishes: sopa negra (black bean soup) al estilo Costa Rica y güirilas (a crepe style item made with corn and a cheese filling) from Nicaragua.Virtual Event
Visit the library to learn how to make your own Worry Dolls. Pick up a supply packet to make at the library or to take home. Worry dolls (also called trouble dolls; in Spanish, Muñeca quitapena) are small, hand-made dolls that originate from Guatemala.San Antonio Public Library, 9050 Wellwood, San Antonio, Texas 78250
For Hispanic Heritage Month this year we will be reading two books, starting in September with "I, Rigoberta Menchú", an autobiography. The October book will be "Cemetery Boys" by Aiden Thomas. Students who join the RJBC are eligible to receive the book free.Virtual Event
Dueling Tacos are on the menu for Noon Time Helping of Mexican cuisine in San Antonio Public Library's Virtual Kitchen! Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in style and discover new taco ideas!Virtual Event
Join the voice and instrument ensembles in this welcome back concert outdoors near the central fountain. Jazz, band, and choral favorites will be performed against the fall sunset--and it is all free!Sombrilla Plaza, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.