Queensland child nutrition research boosted with new bone density technology

20 Feb 2012

Research into improving outcomes for Queensland children whose skeletal health has been compromised by diseases such as cancer or cystic fibrosis and associated therapies will be advanced by a high-tech device that measures body composition and bone mineral density in one simple scan.

The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Children’s Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC), has received a Major Equipment and Infrastructure (MEI) grant from the University to purchase an $86,000 DXA machine - which is a non-invasive x-ray technology that can measure bone density.

CNRC Director, Professor Peter Davies, said the scanner would enhance the centre’s research capacity, reduce research costs, and foster collaborations with other research groups.

“Body composition testing has long been available in our Body Composition Laboratory, but we have been missing the ability to measure bone mineral density,” Professor Davies said.

“The ability to test bone mineral density is vital for our research, as it allows us to understand the impact of disease, and any necessary treatments, on a child’s ability to accrue bone.

“For example, children with conditions such as cancer, or cystic fibrosis, now have an improved life expectancy, but if they underwent cancer treatment at an age when they would normally be undergoing rapid bone growth, they are at risk of future deficits in bone mineral density.

“This new machine will allow us to determine the long term impacts of treatment on their body composition and bone mineral density.

“Research in this area could enable us to improve the long term outcomes for these children, and ensure their long term health is protected with the right nutritional intervention.

“We are thrilled with this grant success and conscious that the capacity for in-house DXA scanning will reduce research costs for our centre, and many other research groups on campus.

“Previously, the CNRC and other research groups incurred considerable expense to outsource DXA scanning.”

The Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute and Cancer Prevention Research Centre have contributed to the purchase of the DXA machine, a partnership which will see many research groups benefit from the ability to measure bone density, without incurring additional expenditure.

The DXA machine will reside in the UQ School of Medicine’s CNRC’s Body Composition Laboratory, based at the Royal Children’s Hospital at Herston.

The laboratory is used for paediatric nutrition research and clinical testing of sick children, and is one of the best equipped of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Media contact: Kate Gadenne, Communications and Fundraising Officer, Children’s Nutrition Research Centre, 07 3636 9271, 0438 727 895 or k.gadenne@uq.edu.au