Shriners Research Team Identifies Protein Involved in Bone Growth

Montreal, Thursday, January 17, 2008 - A research team led by Dr. Pierre Moffatt at the Shriners Hospitals for Children (SHC) – Canada and McGill University’s Department of Human Genetics, has uncovered how, at the molecular level, a protein called osteocrin controls bone growth. This research could pave the way to design new molecules that specifically target bones. ¨We hope that potential therapeutic applications will have beneficial effects on various disorders that impair bone growth, particularly in children¨, explains Dr. Moffatt.

These results were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on December 14, 2007. Most of the research was initially carried out at two Montreal-based biotech companies Phénogène and Enobia Pharma Inc., but finalized in Dr. Moffatt’s lab at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal. The osteocrin gene was discovered as part of a project to identify new genes in bones that might allow therapeutic action in bone diseases. Osteocrin is a small protein that is produced by bone forming cells called osteoblasts. In this study, mice that were genetically engineered to over-produce osteocrin in osteoblasts developed hunchbacks and elongated bones. It was discovered that osteocrin modulates the levels of another hormone (CNP) also produced locally in bone. It is believed osteocrin works to slow down the degradation of CNP, which in turn plays an important role in the regulation of longitudinal bone growth.

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Guylaine Ouellet
Public Relations
Shriners Hospitals for Children - Canada
(514) 282-6990