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Friday, 7 November 2014

Close To the Bone: Novel Genes That Remodel the Skeleton

Dr Laurie Glimcher of is the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College.  She is an immunologist and her research interests center on biochemical and genetic approaches.

At the Arthritis Alliance Symposium she told a fascinating story of mouse research, where a researcher in her lab was not able to extract marrow from the bones of some laboratory mice. The solution that came to her, possibly because her dad was an orthopedic surgeon, was the novel idea of X-Raying the mice. That revealed increased bone mass and the longer that strain of mice lived the more the bone mass increased. That was a very significant piece of knowledge.

These mice lacked SHN3, so they are called Schnurri-3 mice.  In an earlier blog this month I was laughing about zinc fingers but they are very relevant since Schnurri is a zinc finger adaptor protein. Dr Glimcher made her research sound easy to follow though I am sure that I am not doing her justice in these few paragraphs. 

This is genetic research which has great potential in humans. As an example women over 55 who have a broken hip have a 24% chance of death in the year following the break. A way to prevent loss of bone as we age would be a lifesaver.


          Even a plastic skeleton doesn't last forever  

I thought that Dr Glimcher's very logical presentation gave me an insight into the scientific method and more understanding of possible benefits of using genomics in medicine. 

Being exposed to research so positively is a huge benefit of being involved in conferences even when the topic is not familiar.  I appreciate that the Arthritis Alliance of Canada included me in the audience.

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