Calcium-Isotopen-Marker (CIM)

From corals to clinical diagnostics

Marine researchers at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel have developed an early detection method for bone calcium loss together with physicians from the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH) based on an analysis method originating from marine research. The method is based on the measurement of a biomarker that allows early risk assessment of metabolic bone diseases and accompanying therapeutic diagnostics.

"We use an analysis method for calcium isotopes that only requires urine or blood for the examination," Prof. Dr. Anton Eisenhauer, marine researcher and scientific director of osteolabs GmbH. The approach met with great interest right from the start and was supported by several public and private institutions.
The technology of calcium isotope markers (CIM), developed from coral research, is being transferred to clinical diagnostics by the OsteoTest family. CIM has the potential to become a universal platform for the early detection of calcium-related metabolic bone diseases, which affect over one billion patients worldwide. This allows treatment to be initiated before the disease progresses.

Fundamentals of CIM technology

Fig.1: An initial study from 2010 shows that calcium isotope fractionation is a sensitive reflection of the calcium balance in humans1.

The Ca isotope values in the urine are always enriched with heavy Ca isotopes, while the bones always have the lightest isotope values2.

Fig. 2: Heavy Ca isotope levels in urine reflect the fractionation of Ca in the kidney; a small fraction with heavy isotopes enters the urine, while a larger fraction, depleted in heavy isotopes but enriched in light isotopes, is returned to the blood. Thresholds for the balance between calcium absorption and reabsorption from bones and kidneys are well defined and patented3.


Metabolic bone diseases

Fig. 3: Calcium isotopes fulfill all the criteria for an excellent calcium marker for bone and kidney balance, which can be detected using highly sensitive mass spectrometry.

Measuring method of CIM technology

Blood or Urine-Sample

Measurable difference = biomarker

Mass spectrometry

A magnet recognises and separates heavy (44Ca) and light (42Ca) isotopes in order to measure the ratio.

1 Heuser A, Eisenhauer A, Bone, 2010
2 Heuser et al., Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies, 2016
3 Eisenhauer et al., Bone Reports, 2019

CIM tests can do what other methods cannot

Early detection
Accuracy / Reliability
Detailled information
PET-CT Scan*
Bone Scan*
Bone biopsy*
* Prostate cancer bone metastasis * Kidney Dysfunction / Renal Osteodystrophy
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