Brittle bone disease: Drug research in mice offers hope

Contact: Gabe Cherry, 734-647-7085, gcherry@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR – New research in mice offers evidence that a drug being developed to treat osteoporosis may also be useful for treating osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bone disease, a rare but potentially debilitating bone disorder that that is present from birth.

Previous studies have shown the drug to be effective at spurring new bone growth in mice and in humans with osteoporosis, and a University of Michigan research team believes that it may spur new growth in brittle bone disease patients as well. This would be a significant improvement over current treatments, which can only reduce the loss of existing bone.

The new drug is an antibody to a protein called sclerostin, which normally signals the body to stop producing new bone. Previous studies have shown that inhibiting sclerostin through antibody therapy is effective at increasing bone formation and strength.

The new U-M study focused on the effects of the antibody in very young and very old mice with genetic features that mimic brittle bone disease. Researchers were particularly interested in studying the effects of the drug on young mice, which are still growing new bone and have much lower levels of sclerostin.

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Lonnie Shea Wins 2015 Clemson Award

Lonnie SheaEach year, the Society For Biomaterials solicits nominations for outstanding work in the Clemson Award categories. The history of these awards reflects the strong traditional ties between the Society For Biomatierals and Clemson University since 1974.

Lonnie Shea, The William and Valerie Hall Chair and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, is the recipient of the 2015 Clemson Award for Contributions to the Literature for his significant contributions to the literature on the science and technology of biomaterials.

“Dr. Shea has a tremendous publication record for his career stage, and he publishes important papers. Dr. Shea has been actively involved in educational and service activities at many levels, and has made major contributions to the biomaterials field through these activities,” stated colleague David Mooney.

Dr. Shea has published over 168 papers in peer-review journals, and 11 book chapters in the biomaterials and tissue engineering fields. Dr. Shea’s awards and honors include the NSF New Century Scholar, NSF Career Award, and election as a Fellow to AIMBE in 2010.

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“Cancer magnet” collaboration featured in Modern Healthcare

Lonnie SheaU-M BME’s William and Valerie Hall chair of biomedical engineering and professor of biomedical engineering, Lonnie Shea and his wife Dr. Jacqueline Jeruss, associate professor of surgical oncology at the U-M Medical School, were featured in an article on collaboration between doctors and engineers in Modern Healthcare. The feature focuses on their collaboration to develop a “cancer magnet” as a subdermally (under the skin) implantable device able to determine if cancer cells return following surgery or chemotherapy. The Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering created in 2012 aims to foster collaboration between doctors and engineers by linking the U-M College of Engineering and U-M Medical School through Biomedical Engineering. Read the full article titled, “Campus docs and engineers forge new path to innovation and profits” at the Modern Healthcare website.

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