Generation of DXA - Derived Phenotypes in UK Biobank (AUGMENT study)

AUGMENT is a Wellcome Trust funded project which stands for AUtomated Generation of Musculoskeletal phENotypes from the UK biobank exTended imaging study.

The aim of this study is to improve our understanding of how the size, shape and structure of bones and joints contribute towards the development of common age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, providing new opportunities for their diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

This study is led by Professor Jon Tobias in collaboration with researchers from Bristol, Manchester, Southampton, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Oxford and Queensland universities.

We are looking at a special type of X-ray scan (used for measuring bone density) from 100,000 individuals who are being recalled for further scanning in the UK Biobank study, which comprises a large sample of 40-69 year old men and women recruited from across the UK between 2007-2012. We are studying whether hip and knee joint shape are risk factors for developing hip and knee osteoarthritis and evaluating risk factors for spine fractures. Whole body DXA scans are being used to evaluate scoliosis, building on our existing scoliosis research led by Prof Emma Clark. We are also aiming to identify genes associated with a person’s likelihood of developing musculoskeletal disease, which will help us identify the mechanisms of disease, and in future will help in disease prevention and treatment.

The role of abnormal hip shape in the development of hip osteoarthritis has also been explored by Dr Benjamin Faber during his PhD which was completed in 2022.

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