NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
November 2, 1994 Contact: Judith Wortman 
Office of Scientific and 
Health Communications 
(301) 496-8188

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announces grant awards under a new program supporting biomaterials research. According to Dr. Stephen Gordon, head of NIAMS's Musculoskeletal Diseases Branch, "These awards are part of the Federal initiative to maintain U.S. leadership in the technology and commercialization of materials sciences, which includes biomaterials that are used in medical research and health care delivery." This national initiative was established by the President's Federal Coordination Council for Science and Engineering Technology and was adopted by the NIH Advanced Material and Processing Program.

The NIAMS grants focus on joint replacement, particularly on extending the survival of artificial joints. The research projects range from basic research on the nature of the body's cellular response to the implants to a survey of the long-term clinical results of joint replacement. Says Gordon, "The ultimate goals of this initiative are to extend the independence of people with artificial joints and also achieve public health cost savings."

The awards, which total $608,000 the first year, include three grants to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, for projects led by Jorge O. Galante, M.D., DMSc; Tibor T. Glant, M.D., Ph.D.; and Dale R. Sumner, Ph.D. and a fourth grant to the University of Connecticut Health Sciences Center for a project led by Gloria A. Gronowicz, Ph.D.

The Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's grants were made under the new NIH Interactive Research Project Grant (IRPG) mechanism, which encourages interaction and collaboration among scientists with common goals. It is intended to bring together research projects from investigators who wish to collaborate by sharing ideas, data, and/or materials but who do not require extensive shared resources.

The first study at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, led by Dr. Galante, will measure the extent of wear particles from metal hip implants and the body's reaction to these particles three to eight years after a first-time total joint replacement and after a second operation to revise an implant. This study will advance understanding of the safety and risks of total hip replacement. The second project, led by Dr. Glant, will seek to determine if osteolysis (bone breakdown) around the implant is caused by specific wear particles and/or a specific kind of cell or reaction in adjacent bone or tissues. This information is critical to the development of methods to prevent, slow, or reverse osteolysis and subsequent loosening of the implant.

An estimated 47% of total knee replacement (TKR) implants are cementless and depend on local bone ingrowth into a porous implant surface for fixation. The third project at Rush-Presbyterian, which is led by Dr. Sumner, will use a canine model to determine if fixation in TKR by bony ingrowth can be enhanced by treatment of an implant with two different growth factors, one a stimulator of bone repair (transforming growth factor beta), and the other a stimulator of bone formation from cartilage (bone morphogenic protein).

The fourth grant made to the University of Connecticut Health Center will also address fixation of joint replacement implants. An in-vitro (laboratory) culture of bone-forming cells will be used to study the way bone cells attach to different implant materials to produce bony ingrowth. The study will also evaluate various modified surfaces of implant biomaterials for their ability to promote ingrowth.

The NIAMS leads and coordinates the Federal biomedical research efforts in arthritis, musculoskeletal and skin diseases. The Institute supports research projects, research training, clinical trials and epidemiologic studies, and disseminates information on research results.

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