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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 13, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 21
Applied Physics Lab licenses bone health analysis technology

By Paulette Campbell
Applied Physics Laboratory

The Applied Physics Laboratory has signed an agreement with Hologic granting the company exclusive worldwide rights to the Lab's bone health analysis technology. Hologic is a leading provider of diagnostic imaging and state-of-the-art digital imaging systems directed toward women's health.

"This is a great example of the types of collaborations that are needed to move government-funded technologies into the public sector," said Heather Curran, marketing and technology manager in the APL Office of Technology Transfer. "This work was originally funded, in part, to help astronauts. This agreement ensures that many more people will benefit from this technology."

The Hip Structure Analysis technology was developed through the collaborative efforts of Thomas J. Beck and Harry K. Charles, along with Howard S. Feldmesser and Thomas C. Magee. Beck, an associate professor of radiology in the School of Medicine, is a world leader in the development of biomechanical parameters of hip structure derived from densitometric information. His HSA method and its prediction of bone strength has been the subject of more than 30 peer-reviewed publications.

In the mid-1990s, Beck began applying HSA principles to addressing challenges associated with manned space exploration. He is working with APL engineers on a National Space Biomedical Research Institute–funded study to better understand and measure bone loss and its strength-related implications in support of the development of a ground-based clinical system suitable for preflight and post-flight testing of astronauts.

In addition to its use in space-flight work, the HSA method has been used in the analysis of data from a number of major studies around the world.

According to Beck, while bone mineral density is recognized as a strong predictor of fracture risk in osteoporosis, structural effects on bones that are important in determining their mechanical strength cannot be easily determined from BMD alone.

"Hip Structure Analysis algorithms enable us to calculate both the BMD as well as the structural geometry that underlies bone strength from DXA [dual x-ray absorptiometry] measurements," Beck said. "I believe this will result in more definitive measures of bone health."

Brad Herrington, Hologic's vice president of skeletal health imaging, said, "HSA is the leading hip structure analysis method for DXA scans in research and pharmaceutical studies. We intend to take this tool through the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory approval processes and offer it to our bone densitometer customers."

HSA is a trademark of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

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