Graduate student identifies key protein to treat inflammatory diseases

October 17, 2012

Topic: orthopaedics

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At the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research's annual meeting, Guodong Pan received the Young Investigator Award for discovering that the protein GILZ may be the key for scientists to create a drug that promotes bone growth. This can be especially helpful for clinicians who work in orthopaedics and treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Glucocorticoids, the medications on the market to treat these conditions, decrease the activity of the body's anti-inflammatory response. This action, in turn, can lead to bone loss, causing additional health conditions, like osteoporosis and an accumulation of marrow fat. The protein that Pan isolated not only works as an anti-inflammatory, but mediates the production of bone as well.

Pan was able to conduct an animal trial using GILZ, and observed that the protein suppressed fat production normally seen in glucocorticoids.

"We found that when we overexpressed the protein in these mice, it increased bone formation," said Pan. "This supports our original hypothesis that GILZ mediates the body's response to glucocorticoids and encourages bone growth."

This research may be the starting point for the development of a new line of drugs for inflammatory diseases. 

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