Oct 4, 2007    #146
Contact: Wandra Brooks Green
(816) 235-1601

Significant five-year study to identify female osteoporosis risk genes

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine professor Hong-Wen Deng, Ph.D., recently received a five-year grant totaling approximately $5.6 million from the National Institute of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) for his continued search for genes that increase the risk of females developing osteoporosis.

This is one of 11 new or continuing Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) on Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Women’s Health awards, totaling approximately $55 million over the five-year period. Other award recipients include Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Northwestern University; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Washington University; and Yale University.

“The awarding of this grant positions orthopaedic surgery at UMKC as one of the top five departments in the country for NIH-funded research,” said James Hamilton, M.D., Rex L. Dively Chair and professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. “This project spans multiple departments in the University and furthers the development of UMKC as a major research center in bone research.”

The study was selected on the basis of having at least three meritorious interdisciplinary research projects investigating an important issue related to sex/gender health differences and possessing a common topic, which includes clinical and basic research.

“The project is translational in nature, linking basic research of molecular genetics/ genomics/proteomics directly with human health, particularly in women,” said Deng, UMKC professor and Franklin D. Dickson/Missouri Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery. “The results will have profound significance in health care of complex diseases like osteoporosis and should also help shape and define approaches to be used to unravel individual genetic and environmental risk factors for complex diseases in the human genetics field.”

The research will primarily identify osteoporosis risk genes and their functional aspects in females and, secondarily, assess the female specificity of the identified genes/functions in male samples.

This study is significant for women’s health, as osteoporosis is very common in post-menopausal women and greatly increases the risk of developing fractures following traumatic injury. In addition to identifying specific genes that determine the risk of developing osteoporosis, Deng’s group will explore the molecular mechanisms by which these genes contribute to osteoporosis. This could lead to the discovery of new pathways and potential targets for therapeutic cures. Additionally, by being able to identify genetically susceptible individuals, future preventions and interventions may be able to target specific genotypes.

“Deng’s research will open new understandings of osteoporosis and its treatment,” said John Baumann, vice provost for research. “It further represents an important step in the growth of UMKC’s program of translational research, in general, and in mineralized tissue, in particular.”

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban engagement.

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Disclaimer: “The project described was supported by Grant Number P50AR055081 from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases or the National Institutes of Health.”

This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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