Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have developed a new way of producing very high resolution 3-D images of bones using nanoagents, eliminating the need to use X-rays that expose patients to radiation.
The chemists, working in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, attached luminescent compounds to minute gold structures to form biologically safe nanoagents that are attracted to calcium-rich surfaces like human bone. The nanoagents can target even microfractures in bone and highlight fissures, thereby providing a complete 3-D image of a damaged area. The research recently appeared in the journal Chem, which is published by CellPress.
The technique can be used to diagnose bone strength and give healthcare professionals a location and detailed perspective of any weakness or injury, the researchers said. Such information could help prevent the need for bone implants in many cases and act as an early-warning system for people at a high risk of degenerative bone diseases, such as osteoporosis.