Oct 19, 2009    #124
Contact: John Austin

Bone biology and muscle biology researchers awarded $1.1 million ‘Grand Opportunity’ grant

Interdisciplinary group of researchers to study 'crosstalk' between bones and muscles.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, recently announced the awarding of a “Grand Opportunity” grant to the Bone Biology and Muscle Biology Groups at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).

The grant was awarded through the UMKC Center of Excellence in the Study of Dental and Musculoskeletal Tissues, a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary center that includes investigators from the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Computing and Engineering.

The $1.1 million award, titled “Muscle-Bone Endocrine Axis,” is the collaborative effort of Lynda Bonewald and Mark Johnson in the Bone Biology Group at the School of Dentistry and Marco Brotto, Michael Wacker and Jon Andresen in the Muscle Biology Group, Schools of Nursing and Medicine.

Their research will focus on “endocrine crosstalk (how different hormones interact)” between muscles and bones in health and disease. Musculoskeletal conditions, such as sarcopenia (the age-related loss of muscle mass) and osteoporosis are serious health threats among the elderly and are the major causes for debilitating injuries, i.e. loss of independence, and reduced quality of life, accounting for premature death in the elderly and an exorbitant socio-economical burden to society.

Current dogma assumes that the muscle-bone relationship is driven by mechanical factors, but the UMKC investigators propose that bone can act as an endocrine organ to control muscle physiology and disease. A reciprocal relationship may also exist between muscle and bone. Therefore, disease in either organ may have negative repercussions on the reciprocal organ through systemic endocrine factors. This new line of research should have high impact and may lead to the discovery of new factors that could be targets of therapeutic intervention for the prevention and treatment of bone and muscle diseases.

Grand Opportunity (GO) grants are part of a new National Institutes of Health program — Research and Research Infrastructure Grand Opportunities. This intent of the program is to support projects that address large, specific biomedical and biobehavioral research endeavors that will benefit from significant 2-year funds without the expectation of continued NIH funding beyond two years. The research supported by the GO grants program should have high short-term impact, and a high likelihood of enabling growth and investment in biomedical research and development, public health and health care delivery.

About UMKC

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 four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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