May 25, 2017

Jay R. Lieberman receives $2.2 million NIH grant to fund research on healing difficult bone injuries

Jay R. Lieberman (Photo by Les Dunseith)

By Erica Rheinschild

Jay R. Lieberman, chair and professor of orthopedic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California has received a five-year, $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to research gene therapy to enhance repair of extensive bone injuries. Examples of these types of injuries include fractures with extensive bone loss, non-healing fractures, failed spinal fusion and revision of total joint replacement.

Lieberman will genetically manipulate human bone marrow cells to overproduce bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), a protein that spurs progenitor cells to produce bone.

“There are a number of bone injuries that are very difficult to repair and lack satisfactory solutions,” said Lieberman, who is also a USC Stem Cell principal investigator. “My goal with this grant is to determine whether genetically modifying human bone marrow cells to overproduce BMP will help heal large bone defects in an animal model and, ultimately, provide a better alternative for repairs in humans.”

Lieberman’s study will determine the efficacy and safety of the gene therapy as well as establish a cellular dose of the genetically manipulated cells that can be scaled up for potential use in humans.

An abstract of the grant, 2R01AR057076-06A1, is available on the NIH RePORTER website.