Published 1/1/2007
Christy M.P. Gilmour

Developmental Biology in Orthopaedics kicks off research symposia series

During the next four years, the AAOS will be sponsoring a series of cutting-edge topical symposia, supported by the National Institutes of Health through a multi-year R-13 grant.

The first, “Developmental Biology in Orthopaedics” (DBO) was held this past October in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Co-chaired by Benjamin Alman, MD, and William Horton, MD, the symposium focused on the role that cellular processes play in pathologic and repair processes involving the musculoskeletal system and how pathways can be targeted to develop better treatments for orthopaedic conditions. Attendees included developmental biology researchers and orthopaedic investigators who reviewed the state of the art, began to develop new collaborations, and identified areas for future work.

Stephen Katz, MD, PhD, director of the National Institute on Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) spoke briefly at the conference. Three members of his staff—Bernadette Tyree, PhD, director of the cartilage and connective tissue program; James Panagis, MD, PhD, director of the orthopaedic program, and Fei Wang, PhD, director of the musculoskeletal development and tissue engineering program—also attended the conference.

Research initiatives

With an emphasis on applying research results to patient care, the symposium produced the following five future research initiatives:

  1. Applying developmental biology knowledge to areas of orthopaedic pathology, including repair processes, neoplasia, and arthritis
  2. Performing surgery on genetically modified mice to test the application of developmental biologic principles to orthopaedic pathology
  3. Applying new methods—including biomechanical techniques, novel imaging techniques, and methods to measure vascularity—to the analysis of genetically modified mice,
  4. Applying knowledge of how individual cells in animal models respond to the mechanical environment that regulates their behavior to developmental and pathologic processes
  5. Expanding our knowledge of fundamental biology in repair and regeneration to optimize the results of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine efforts

Funding for research in many of these areas is tight, and targeting research funding to the role of developmental biology in orthopaedic conditions would speed progress in this area.

“The AAOS is pleased to have the continued support of the NIH as we strive to define the current status of clinical and preclinical research and practice in important areas of musculoskeletal medicine,” Dr. Alman says.

For more information on upcoming topics in the symposia series, go to: http://www.aaos.org/research.asp

Christy M.P. Gilmour is manager of medical research in the AAOS department of government affairs.