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Potential Treatment Found for Debilitating Bone Disease in Wounded Soldiers and Children
Date:4/3/2011

PHILADELPHIA, April 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Promising new research reveals a potentially highly effective treatment for heterotopic ossification (HO), a painful and often debilitating abnormal buildup of bone tissue. HO comes in two main forms—one that appears in children and is congenital, another that strikes wounded military personnel and surgery patients and is triggered by severe injuries and wounds.

An animal study by developmental biologists shows that a drug that interrupts a signaling-nuclear protein pathway can prevent HO. The study appeared online today in Nature Medicine.

"There are currently no effective treatments for this disease," said study leaders Masahiro Iwamoto, D.D.S., Ph.D., and Maurizio Pacifici, Ph.D., developmental biologists in the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Surgeons can remove the abnormal bone masses, but surgery itself may trigger more of those growths."

Calling the work an "elegant study," Frederick Kaplan, M.D., said that it "addresses a vast unmet need in clinical medicine." Kaplan, the Isaac & Rose Nassau Professor of Orthopaedic Molecular Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who wrote a commentary on the research in the same issue of Nature Medicine, added that the study "provides great hope, insight and direction for the development of effective medications to prevent and treat catastrophic extraskeletal bone formation."

Iwamoto and Pacifici recently came to Children's Hospital from Thomas Jefferson University, where they performed the study. Pacifici holds the new Bong Lee Endowed Chair in Pediatric Orthopaedics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he is director of Orthopaedic Research.

The exact mechanism by which HO occurs is not fully understood, but trauma, surgery or deep burns cause local inflammation, followed by the arrival of skeletal cells that develop into c
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SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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