The Mayo Clinic Biomaterials and Histomorphometry Core evaluates complex metabolic bone disorders to assess the effects of skeletally active agents. A bone biopsy with histomorphometry is essential to evaluate new drugs for osteoporosis and other metabolic bone diseases.

Histomorphometry data complements bone density measurements or bone turnover markers, and provides data that cannot be acquired using other methods. While bone turnover markers are routinely used in clinical trials, the most definitive method for assessing bone turnover and mineralization remains a bone biopsy with assessment of bone formation rates based on tetracycline labeling, eroded surfaces, osteoblast and osteoclast numbers and osteoid covered surfaces.

The Biomaterials and Histomorphometry Core offers clinical and basic science researchers cost-effective services, such as:

  • Plastic embedding
  • Paraffin embedding
  • Human tissue processing and evaluation
  • Large and small animal sample processing and evaluation
  • Hard material (metal and scaffold) implant sectioning
  • Microcomputerized tomography (micro-CT) scanning
  • Input and guidance from skilled technicians
  • Endocrinologist, pathologist and musculoskeletal researcher consultations
  • Biomaterials synthesis
  • Biomaterials characterization

Research for drug and device development

The Biomaterials and Histomorphometry Core conducts evaluations in both human and animal tissue critical to musculoskeletal research. The primary expertise of the laboratory is the processing of skeletal tissue in its calcified state for the preparation of histology slides.

The core uses a bone-specific image analysis system (OsteoMeasure) to quantify skeletal parameters in tissue sections. Assessing bone volume, formation rates, skeletal mineralization and how they are regulated can help identify skeletal pathologies and evaluate potential countermeasures.

Validated clinical services

Gender-specific normal reference ranges for iliac crest biopsies have been developed using specimens obtained from both females and males with healthy bone metabolism. Because of this, the Biomaterials and Histomorphometry Core can provide gender-specific "normal" reference values and Z-scores for any human bone biopsy of the iliac crest that it processes and quantifies.